CIO Profile: Craig Gibbons, Fuji Xerox Australia

Under the mantra of 'people led systems', Fuji Xerox Australia's new CIO, Craig Gibbons, is driving technical change by changing culture and attitudes.

Craig Gibbons joined Fuji Xerox Australia in October 2010. After taking a self imposed sabbatical following five years in a CIO role at NRMA Motoring and Services and three years working on the Athens Olympic Games, Gibbons felt that he was ready to step back into a leadership role. He initially thought that he'd prefer an operational, rather than CIO role, but once he'd taken some time during his break he realised that the CIO's role was what he wanted.

Amongst the challenges that Gibbons faced when joining Fuji Xerox Australia was culture. Fuji Xerox is a Japanese company with a significant R&D focus. Although Gibbons works in the Australian arm where western business practices and culture are prevalent, being part of a larger family with a Japanese parent requires "careful understanding and conversations, negotiation and time" according to Gibbons. Prior to his formal induction at Fuji Xerox Australia, Gibbons did some intensive cultural awareness training to get the basics of polite business greetings and to get some idea of the hidden meanings of some interactions.

Gibbons oversees "everything that is internally consumed from a technology perspective to run our business. We use Aurora for ERP and an in-house developed CRM product that has some very intelligent capability. We use Cisco VoIP for our phone system with a lot of integration into regional environments for our call centres in Australia. Then there are all the normal systems every business has like file and print sharing, communications. We do share some of our technology and consume from our Singapore-based operation".

It's a new thing for me to be the CIO in a technology company. It means that we have a lot more technology in the company that I'm not actually responsible for but it definitely needs to be in my purview. We've got a very strong services business with outsourcing and managed services. They have client facing technology that they run themselves. While I'm not responsible for it I'm very interested in it and making sure we have an environment that's well blended and that we're getting the best experience and that we share as much as we possibly can".

Such a diverse and complex environment can be hard work but it's attitudes and perceptions that challenge Gibbons. "Being really honest about it, the biggest challenge we have is changing the company's approach to technology from being commodity, lowest cost based and being something that was a cost that had to be absorbed to changing it to a services based, value model. There are plenty of technology challenges but the biggest challenge is understanding what we need from technology and having a balanced portfolio to meet those needs. It's changing from saying cost is the primary measure and changing it to look at the contribution it will make to our success."

"I've introduced a different way to affect cultural change inside the team who works worth me. I don't want them to focus on technology. What I want them to focus on is the needs of the people who use our technology to run the company.The mantra I've introduced is 'people-led systems'. People's needs are what define our systems because systems don't run our operations - people run our operations using our system".

While there's a level of constant change in technology, the last few years have seen significant platform shifts with cloud, tablet and virtualisation. Gibbons work in a large community of interest with many peers within the business to discuss how these changes impact Fuji Xerox Australia. that group extends all the way from his local team to regional management in the Asia-Pacific region all the way to head office in Japan. He also uses his local network. "I particularly like to talk to CEOs and find out what their hot buttons are. Often the CIO hot buttons are related to technology but CEOs are interested in people. You can start to get some though leadership from them on things we should be thinking about and addressing before they become issues we have to react to".

"There is no part of a company that changes faster than the technology component" says Gibbons. "That's mainly due to external influences and not internal pressure. The technology market is constantly introducing new ways of doing things. This creates new opportunities for the company to do better. At the same, you've got to run a service organisation. You have to deliver on the promise you've made that you get paid to do every day. We've got about 146 systems in the company and each one defines a service that our company consumes. The thing that's changed the most though, and this gets back to the user's perspective, is that seven to ten years ago, users came to work to use the best technology. Now they go home to use the best technology. Commoditisation means that really nice technology is affordable. Faster broadband is affordable and smartphones have changed the world in terms if the information that people have at their fingertips. It's not a race any more. It's not economic for companies to try to keep up."

Commoditisation of technology has lead Gibbons to consider the BYO technology. "People like to have choice in how they work and we need to meet that demand for choice". Gibbons is planning to allow his customers to choose the technology they want to use so that both the users and business realise benefits. "If we achieve a large percentage of people who vote to bring their own computer to work and I give them a way to do that suits us, that is just as available, reliable and secure as if I was giving them one of our computers, then they have one less computer in their life. We have a workforce of about 2000 staff and if half elect to do that, we've just taken 1000 computers out of the manufactured market. That's a great sustainability outcome". To drive towards the BYO computer goal, Gibbons is planning to use desktop virtualisation. "We'll run their business world in our data centre and their personal world will live on their desktop".

This was first published in June 2011

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