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Leadership / Digital Transformation

Three UK CIO’s bid ‘to change the business – not just the technology’

Three UK CIO Belinda Finch and IT delivery coordinator Zane Elmasri joined Tech Monitor Live to discuss business-led technology transformation and how it impacts the role of IT.

Mobile telecommunications provider Three UK has restructured its transformation programme so that it led by the business, not the technology function, according to CIO Belinda Finch. This impetus to empower business decision-makers to lead the transformation is reshaping the role of the IT department – and the CIO – in the organisation.

Speaking at Tech Monitor Live: Tomorrow’s Tech Leaders, Finch shared her views on the future of technology within organisations, in which transformation change is led by “multi-skilled individuals” who understand both business and technology leads, such as product owners.


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Business-led transformation at Three UK

Three UK has repositioned its ongoing transformation initiative so that is directed by business objectives. “We restructured our transformation programme, and moved completely away from a technology-based transformation and moved towards a digital, business transformation programme,” she said. “That’s been a really important move for us, and we’re now much more aligned with the business on objectives.”

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This required a cultural shift, Finch explained, so that technology-led transformation was no longer seen as the IT department’s responsibility.

This did not mean the technology function is of less importance – quite the opposite. But it underscores that transformational changes at an organisation need to encompass far more than modernising IT systems.

“I think over the last few years technology has moved from being an enabler of business processes to actually being that key factor in your long-term business strategy,” she said. “Technologies and investments now define how fast a business can move and how agile it becomes.

“In order to make our transformation work we moved away from the traditional approach of it being an IT project: ‘We’re taking out this system and putting this system in, then we’re going to decommission a load of stuff’. We made it business-led, so it’s no longer ‘led’ from the IT department, it’s actually led from the commercial side.

“We’re trying to change the business and not just the technology.”

Another way in which Three UK plans to empower business users to lead technology-driven change is through the use “zero code” platforms, Finch explained. These will “allow the business owner to solve their own problems and launch their own products without having to go through the long-winded change request and demand management process”.

“It’s not going to be universal for everything, but I do see a time where everyone just builds their own apps without having to bother the techies,” she said.

Nurturing the next generation of technology leaders

Finch was joined by her colleague Zane Elmasri, who joined the company during the pandemic as a graduate on the digital transformation programme, before starting his current role as an IT delivery coordinator. Elmasri described how the experience of joining a company during the pandemic has revealed the importance of technology leaders who can foster a sense of belonging – and who are approachable.

 

Finch described Three UK’s newly relaunched graduate scheme, which will give graduates joining this year both formal training as well as on the job training. “We need those graduates to learn the right skills on the job, but also in training courses – but there’s nothing like being thrown a problem and asked to fix it, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do with our graduates,” she said.

“This is an important step for us,” she added. “This is where our future lies.”

 

Register to view this and other full sessions from Tech Monitor Live: Tomorrow’s Tech Leaders on demand.

Edward Qualtrough

Special projects editor

Edward Qualtrough is special projects editor for Tech Monitor.