On Reflection: Digital Transformation at The AA, Costa Coffee & Motor Oil Group

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This article is a comparison piece reflecting on past interviews with the CIOs at The AA, the CIO at Costa Coffee and the Group CIO at Motor Oil Group

Three Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from three unrelated organisations, representing three very different industries. You’d expect differing opinions when it comes to digital transformation and scaleup technology. And you’d be right, except for one shared consensus … read on! 

For Nick Giannakakis, CIO at Motor Oil Group, when it comes to innovation at Motor Oil, the focus is on short term challenges and goals, inline with near-term changes facing the energy sector, whereas, for Ollie Holden, CIO at The AA, digital transformation is a long-term process of simplifying existing technologies and overcoming legacy systems. 

Nick is pushing Motor Oil to become a more agile organisation, in order to remain competitive and adapt to the changing market conditions. Ollie’s transformation efforts focus on better connectivity in order to serve & support The AA‘s customers better. Phil Scully, CIO at Costa Coffee, thinks whatever technology is used to transform, must be an end-to-end process, supporting & enabling their three core pillars; brand, product and promise. 

While objectives differ, all three agree that scaleup collaboration will help drive their respective transformation agendas. That being said, their requirements to work with scaleup solutions vary. 

To procure a technology from a scaleup vendor at Motor Oil, the company must already have a large energy sector client, and they must be able to prove the robustness of their data models. Whereas at Costa, industry clients aren’t as important, but having unprecedented resilience and security is of the utmost importance, as well as the ability to grow and scale with the corporate. As Phil commented: “Can they be rolled out internationally? Can they work in other international markets, given that Costa Coffee is a global brand? Can that scaleup grow and scale at the same pace, at the same size? Because ultimately, if that scaleup is not able to keep up with the scope of the corporate, we will only have limited collaboration with them”.

At the AA, in order to procure a solution, the scaleup must prove that their capabilities are sufficiently better than the AA’s capabilities to build something similar internally. Ollie highlights that at the AA, they don’t want to buy technology for technology’s sake, they’d rather focus on finding the balance between building solutions internally and simplifying existing technologies, and buying a solution off the shelf. 

Despite their subtle differences, there is common thread when it comes to digital transformation: data

As Ollie says “by joining up our data across all of our different areas, you start to get some real power and insight into both customer behaviour and customer need” … this is echoed by Phil “at every point of the digital agenda, collecting, maintaining and using that data is hugely important for the business” … and shared by Nick “the transformation strategy at Motor Oil will be heavily focussed on becoming a data-driven organisation in order to increase productivity.”

It’s clear, despite representing markedly different industries (energy, insurance and retail respectively), when it comes to innovation, our three CIOs can all agree, it’s do or die for all large organisations – and that successful digital transformation necessitates a solid data strategy. 

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