2015 Winner Profile

2 Sisters Food Group

Ferenc Vezer

RANK: #75

COMPANY WHERE WON: 2 Sisters Food Group


Ferenc Vezer is experimenting with augmented reality technology to open up opportunities for consumers to gain access to nutritional information, product traceability or just simple recipes of how to cook with an ingredient.

What the judges said

"He has done a lot of the sorting out of the organisation," Richard Sykes

"He has done what he has been asked to do and done it well," Jayne Nickalls

"He sees the need for real time data," Ian Cohen

"I think this is the completion of the first chapter, what will be interesting is what they go on and do from here," Mark Chillingworth

Job title
Group CIO.

When did you start your current role?
18 months.

What is your reporting line?
Group CFO.

Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
I have monthly one-to-ones with the CEO.

Are you a member of the board of directors?

What other executive boards do you sit on?
Operational exec.

Does your organisation have a CDO?

How many employees does your organisation have?

Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?

What number of users does your department supply services to?

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
By continually building and maintaining business relationship with the business executive, attending exec meetings, monthly one-to-one updates with all divisional MDs, CEO, CFO, group HRD.

2 Sisters technology strategy and agenda

Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology-oriented start-ups?

Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside?

Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in?
We are continually introducing new technologies, products and services to change the way we work, becoming more nimble while supporting the business to gain advantage over the competition.

The new, shared digital platform enables business opportunities and growth, supports social media integration, and potentially user-generated content. We are also experimenting with augmented reality (AR) technology. AR opens up exciting opportunities for consumers to gain access to nutritional information, product traceability or just simple recipes of how to cook with an ingredient.

What major transformation project has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
• The creation of the centralised, in-house shared IT service centre
• IT back-office infrastructure modernisation
• Consolidation of multiple datacentres into two purpose-built DCs
• Refresh of the legacy infrastructure and secure core systems
• Single wide area network across 60 sites. Move from two WAN providers to one
• Replacement of all site data communication lines with increased bandwidth and resilience, and upgraded connections to the internet
• PC refresh and Office 365
• New managed print services
• MFD roll-out under way with single managed print supplier (Ricoh)
• New, shared digital platform and in-house digital team
• Consolidation of existing BI tools onto SAP BPC and data services

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
The simplification of the IT environment by design will reduce technology-related risks, and keep IT costs down and predictable. Will also enable easier integration of future M&As.

New technology improves productivity and speeds up decision-making. The new capability will also enable the traditional business to go digital by developing B2B and B2C capability and generating complementary revenue online.

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
I certainly hope and believe so! I am very passionate and proud of IT's contribution to the business. I take every opportunity to exploit emerging technologies and find a business use for them.

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
The key components of transformation for now are stability, risk mitigation, service simplification, user collaboration, enabling the 'analogue' business to move toward digital, and real-time access to management information. To achieve this we are using datacentre virtualisation (Dell Compellent and blades, VMWare and Cisco Nexus), LanDesk, Office 365, SAP Business Objects, BPC and Data Services and EpiServer CMS.

Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation?

What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?
Our long-term strategic vision is to provide the business with real-time information, combining internal business and external customer/consumer data. This will give 2SFG the necessary edge and agility to react to forever changing markets.

We currently manage internal data from multiple ERPs, manufacturing applications, databases and spreadsheets. In addition there are a significant number of business applications such as health and safety, payroll and complaints.

With the imminent implementation of SAP BPC and data services we will be removing technology risk and replicate the existing financial reporting systems in a single environment. Once completed, this opens up a raft of data opportunities.

Phase 2 will be to extend data collection to all, applications building one system, unifying reporting across all business divisions. Data can then be manipulated, sliced, diced and viewed as required, with drill-downs into details, while ensuring all users are accessing a single source. Combining this with external market data and additional non-structured data such as weather or social media will give 2SFG meaningful management information.

Reporting will be delivered to mobiles, tablets, PCs and TV screens, projecting key real-time manufacturing KPIs, also fixed-format reporting and data alerts through to self-service ad hoc reporting.

The vision is to host data on the SAP Hana platform, giving us proactive strategic analysis and decision-making.

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
A large part of 2SFG remains an ‘analogue’ business, as is most of the fresh food industry. But there are huge opportunities within food products with longer shelf life as grocers look to suppliers to sell directly to customers through them.

2SFG-branded businesses are increasing activity to capitalise on new ways to increase brand awareness and identity. There is a big internal driver to increase the use of social media/networking to drive brand awareness.

We are also actively working on real-time communication and collaboration tools, deploying Office 365 to improve and reduce travel-related costs.

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
Personally I don't see the point in fighting a battle IT cannot win. Shadow IT is here to stay. The scale can be a symptom of IT not meeting user expectation or falling too far behind consumer technology trends. CIOs have a choice: embrace the fact and effectively manage the situation, or run the risk of alienating part of the user base.

We at 2SFG use tools to ensure security is enforced and company policies are complied with. Enabling BYOD is seen as a positive by exec employees; it also helps with the work-life balance. A device of choice enables users to do their job more effectively.

Influencing is not the issue. Convincing execs to support the BYOD initiative starts by demonstrating that corporate data is safe and secure.

BYOD might not be a cost saving for the business, but if planned and managed well, it is not a cost increase either. Certainly, it improves employee satisfaction.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
We have made significant progress in selecting strategic technologies and partners. TalkTalk is providing wide area connectivity (MPLS), with additional fibre links by Virgin. The two main datacentres are powered by Dell servers and SAN replicated storage. End-user equipment such as PCs and laptops are currently being refreshed by Dell equipment running Microsoft Office365.

Strategic choice of ERP remains SAP, supported by Atos as SI and support partner.

The group's new shared digital platform is EpiServer, implemented and supported by Maginus, and hosted at Zen.

Who are your main suppliers?
Atos, Dell, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Microsoft, SAP, Zen, EpiServer, Maginus.

2 Sisters IT security and agenda

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?

Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?

Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces?

Has this led to an increase in your security budget?

How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
• Complete the strategic technology overhaul
• Simplify the technology landscape and improve user collaboration
• Design and start building the BI vision
• Extend 2SFG's digital capability

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?

Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?

2 Sisters technology department

How would you describe your leadership style?
Energetic passionate and inpatient about what I do.

Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
I am very fortunate with my leadership team. Most of us have worked together in previous organisations, so over the years we have learnt each other's strengths and weaknesses. Each and every one of them contributes to the IT strategy and we collectively own it. Every year we develop and agree actionable plans together to address the challenges and deliver on the strategy. Objectives are tailored to their unique talents to position them to do what they do best. We meet once a week as a management team and once a week I have a one-to-one with each.

For formal development we use in-house L&D, external training. We also subscribed to the Gartner EX programme.

How many employees are in your IT team?
80 FTE and 20 outsourced.

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?

Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?

LOCATION: Wakefield, United Kingdom

INDUSTRY: Manufacturing Industry