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CIO owning outsourcing in standardised Countrywide estate

Edward Qualtrough | Dec. 13, 2013
Countrywide CIO Oliver Skagerlind describes current infrastructure transformation and strategy of owning your outsourcing to enable project success

Referring back to their transformation, Skagerlind said that it would be their back end which underpins this.

"We have to be able to make informed decisions, and it's my job to give us that infrastructure that says we can do it," he said.

"And then it becomes a commercial discussion around whether or not we want to have everyone on bring-your-own-device.

"Depending on the division of the business, we can deploy BYOD fairly rapidly. That's the strategy, as long as the capability is there we can deploy to end-users."

Operating systems
Part of the current transformation project involves moving to a standard operating system. At the moment, Skagerlind said, Countrywide use various platforms - including Linux and Red Hat - a legacy issue of the historical way the organisation has dealt with technology.

"Windows 2003 is running around there somewhere," he said. "We're dealing with 65 different varieties of end-user devices that aren't necessarily compatible or interchangeable - it becomes not just a blocker to change but also quite expensive.

"We are a very large organisation and we want to have a competitive advantage and moving to a standard Windows platform takes us some way to giving us that.

"Although at best we're a fast follower - but I doubt we're even that anymore."

Innovation and customer experience
Skagerlind emphasises that the current infrastructure overhaul is about building a platform for innovation, with their next piece of strategy focused on applications.

"It's very much an infrastructure-led transformation, but from my eyes it's the building blocks for a successful technology transformation. This will give us the capability to start really looking at consolidating our applications across different lines of business.

"Can we do something different and innovative and become smarter from that point of view?

"It's definitely going to be interlinked with the customer experience because the days when an estate agent or letting agent goes into a flat with a load of paper is slowly going to disappear. Apart from the fact that it looks untidy, smart technology is going to be what they're utilising, which in turn will let head office make more informed decision with the data, which is now all in one place.

"Your business intelligence will become much more productive and therefore decisions you can make around the market become much easier."

With the current project at Countrywide, however, it will be making the transition from the organisation's legacy systems as simple as possible and explaining its benefits to their current employees that will really make it a success, Skagerlind says.

"The biggest challenge isn't the technology, which is actually pretty standard. The success of this transformation is around the business change component, and making people understand what it is that they're getting and how they use it, because they can use it to their advantage but equally if they don't understand it, the technology can become a hindrance.


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