Ikano, when non core activities become heart ! Part 1: the strategy

[question]How did you address this globalisation strategy?[/question][answer] A little more […]

July 5, 2012

[question]How did you address this globalisation strategy?[/question][answer]

A little more than five years ago, I started to define a global IT strategy. It was quite an adventurous task. I started looking at what could be done in common in the group. I made my first decisions about the negociations of contracts on a group level. It was quite obvious: we had many decisions made for buying software and hardware made independently in each entity, whereas we could do this on a global scale.

After that, even if the business lines have completely different activities, possible synergies could be made. When analysing the IT we could quickly see that the applications specific to each entity only represented about 30 to 40 percent of their IT budget, and the rest was common to other entities. A virtualised platform, office tools, storage, etc… can be identical, even though the business lines activities differ.

[/answer][question]How far have you come five years later ?[/question][answer]

My role has remained the same: I don’t manage operations for entities – they oversee their own IT – except in Luxembourg where I’m responsible for local operations.

When I got here, the Luxembourg IT was managed by Ikano Fund Management, which had always been in the Grand Duchy. The Headquarter was only moved here in 2002, and this progressively created new needs. I was asked to put in place the systems to support the HQ. We had two critical elements to consider: on the one hand, supporting the applications common to the whole group (consolidation, financial reporting, risk management, etc.). And on the other hand, offering a service to the directors and managers who being frequent travellers need mobile and easy-to-access solutions.

[/answer][question]On a group level, what was the corporate strategy?[/question][answer]

Chris Adam, Ikano

Over the last five years we went through a tremendous IT evolution. We created not a centralised, but a globalised model. The main idea is to do certain things in common while keeping the right balance in each entity. My role is not to make decisions for the whole group from a faraway ivory tower, but rather to be able to demonstrate and justify what good can come from doing things in common.

For example, there are two ways to negotiate contracts: one is to talk to the seller on my own and then decide the solution should be used by everyone. The other, which I prefer, is to analyse what users are already using today, and whether having a solution for the group is really an advantage.

[/answer][question]Was your role to be an IT ambassador?[/question][answer]

First, I had to find out what the local objectives and projects were. Then, I had to identify possible synergies. We chose not to go for centralisation – whether it be in Luxembourg or elsewhere – but to improve the competence centres in Europe and Asia. Today we’d call this a Cloud, and it was the solution we actually created. We now have a private cloud in which users can find several services and functionalities.

I see myself more as a coordinator, aware of each person’s issues and needs, and trying to improve the whole IT offering through the creation of synergies.

[/answer][question]What can and cannot be done?[/question][answer]

The main issue is there, and we can feel it every day. On the one hand each business has its needs, whether it be because of local constraints or by the nature of the activities. On the other hand, we need to align entities on the group’s strategy. To address this, we work with virtual teams made of people located in different entities.[/answer]

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