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The IT department is incredibly important to any business, but when your business deals with flying through the air, you need to be certain you have the correct person at the head of IT architecture. An article by Angelica Mari of Computer Weekly goe

CIO Interview: Mike Croucher of British Airways

The IT department is incredibly important to any business, but when your business deals with flying through the air, you need to be certain you have the correct person at the head of IT architecture. An article by Angelica Mari of Computer Weekly goes right to the experts to find out how IT is being managed. At British Airways, after CIO Paul Coby left after over a decade of service, Mike Croucher, head of IT architecture and deliver, and Steve Harding, head of IT operations and infrastructure, had to take over the responsibilities of British Airways’ IT department. Instead of replacing Coby, the two men split the IT department between them and found that this new method actually worked quite well for the company: “We never replaced Paul, we just split the IT organisation into two areas. Steve’s role is to run the datacentre operation efficiently, and mine is to lead a department through change,” Chroucher told Computer Weekly. He says there is no plan to reinstate the role of CIO at the airline, with BA’s IT department in a better shape under the new set up. “We moved the IT department back to a more purist state. Paul had taken it down a route where he was trying to look after processes as well, and I don’t think the business was appreciative of that,” says Croucher. “I think we have become an IT provider to the business—a pure-play IT department again.” This new method of working IT certainly brings with it new challenges. At the time of the former CIO’s exit, one of the larger projects Croucher and Harding faced was the integration with Iberia. Iberia and British Airways remained as two separate bodies while the cargo department was a joint operation. When you have two separate areas of one business each working in their own way, finding a way to consolidate IT can be quite difficult. Croucher suggests that the key to success in such instances is to focus on bringing the business angle together first. This will make creating an IT proposition in a timely manner simpler. Furthermore, using the processes British Airways already had in place made the IT merger go smoothly. Another thing that has worked very well for those dealing with IT inside British Airways is the focus on mobility. Using big data, social media customer feedback, and applications, British Airways has been able to operate on the cusp of growing IT trends. “Mobility across the airline has become a very bit thing over the past two years, “ Croucher notes. This is not to say that every new technological trend needs to be followed, but there is something to be said for recognizing what your customer wants and being able to deliver at a level that pleases the customer and the IT department alike. Not every IT department needs to operate like the one at British Airways. Perhaps having a single CIO instead of a divide and conquer IT strategy works best for your business. The point is that IT is so crucial to the business world it is only fair that there be more than one approach to addressing it. Perhaps trying something new is just the kick toward success that your organization needs.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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