Changing man: an interview with Colt Technology Services' Mark Leonard

By Sooraj Shah
02 Oct 2012 View Comments
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As CIO for Colt Technology Services, Mark Leonard is keen for his users to be ahead of the curve when it comes to new developments in enterprise IT.

“We’re a tech company so it is important for us that our workforce is thinking in the new paradigms that are presenting themselves,” he says. “When we decided that we would rollout iPhones as a company smartphone one of our aims was to change the way people thought about technology; it’s a very different model, it is service focused and that service is end-to-end.”

Further reading

Leonard has implemented what he calls a “use your own device” policy, rather than the more familiar bring your own device (BYOD). He has rolled out MobileIron’s mobile device management, which has been licensed for both company-supplied and personal smartphones and tablets that connect to the corporate network through a VDI infrastructure.

“Because we believe that demand will increase for BYOD we are looking at how we might be able to create a co-existence of the company’s mobile phone number and bill, with the individual’s phone number and bill on the same device,” he says. “What we’re starting to see is that people are not prepared to wait for the three-year company refresh cycle, they want the latest iteration of the iPad or iPhone and this is at the heart of consumerisation.”

Leonard believes his policy has made Colt’s staff more productive by making it easier for them to collaborate on projects and to work away from their desks and outside office hours.

Another trend that is beginning to have a significant impact on corporate IT is big data, and again Leonard is determined that his users are able to explore the technology’s potential, so that they can pass on any insights they gain to their clients.

Experimenting with big data

“I think with big data the technology vision is slightly ahead of the business vision. While businesses understandably want more flexibility and speed when it comes to analysing data and distributing knowledge, they need to make sure that they have people that can exploit it in the right way,” he says.

Leonard sees big data as being part of a more general opening up of analytics to less technical users.

“The days of large-scale ‘monolithic’ reporting have gone and we need to create an environment where business people and knowledge workers have easy self-service access to the analytics they need and we’re looking at how we can achieve that,” he says.

Leonard has “sandboxed” one half of Colt’s data warehouse for official reporting, while the other half is an area where business analysts or marketing or financial staff to test out different analytic ideas and concepts.

Another of Leonard’s responsibilities is to oversee Colt’s support operations in India. The company currently employs about 1,800 people in Gurgaon, New Delhi and Bangalore, who provide everything from back-office HR, reporting and finance functions to IT services, network services and research and development.

But it’s in leveraging new technology that Leonard gets most satisfaction.

“I guess I’m fortunate as it is always great when as CIO you can expand into new areas,” he says.

“In 2000, the CIO was really focused on a large line of business applications and infrastructure, and over the past 10 years people have been more focused on providing discrete but highly relevant pieces of functionality to the business. I think now the [initial] focus is coming back – without leaving behind the competitive focus of the business.

“Now the role is much more about leveraging the technology. We’re going through a sea change with technology at the moment, whether it’s being device driven, how people consume it or whether it is driven by the elastic infrastructure that cloud provides.”

Technology never stands still, and Leonard wouldn’t have it any other way.

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