Telecommunications giant Telefonica, better known in the UK as O2, has a presence in 24 countries, and annual revenue of about £60bn.
The company has about 150,000 employees and 320 million customers, and hires CIOs at a local level to head up each IT department and ensure that the firm's subsidiaries are up to date with their IT strategies.
The man who they report to on a functional level is Telefonica's group CIO, Phil Jordan.
"We have CIOs, who have a dotted functional reporting line to me; they report to the CEO of the company directly, but I'm their functional boss, they report to me through a matrix," he told Computing.
The firm, which also houses the Movistar and Vivo brands, has about 6,000 people working in its IT departments, and thousands more working in conjunction with them on IT-related projects. Jordan believes that the firm is now going through its biggest transformation ever.
"We are at a point in Telefonica's history where IT has become extremely prominent and is the key differentiator for the business," he said.
The transformation is headed by three main projects, Jordan said. The first is to consolidate its existing infrastructure, the second is to simplify its business processes and use of IT, and the third is being able to use customer data and insight to make better products.
"In our infrastructure layer, we are consolidating very fast to become [more] global. We've just finished our programme of creating our own Tier 3 and Tier 4 datacentres, and we are now running a massive transformation in Europe to consolidate and virtualise our entire mid-range infrastructure in our own private cloud. In Latin America, we have datacentres in every country and we are trying to move to more of a shared services environment. Overall, we are in the process of standardising and pulling together all of our infrastructure services into a common organisation and being able to deliver infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)," he said.
The second project - to simplify the business' internal processes - includes the firm's switch to Microsoft Office 365.
Telefonica is a Microsoft shop, using Microsoft Office, Exchange and Outlook, and the company decided that Office 365 was an easy choice and the best fit to incorporate all of those existing services on a cloud-based infrastructure that could be rolled out globally.
The rollout started with an initial deployment to 3,500 seats in June, with another 20,000 to come this year, and the remaining 100,000-plus moving over a period of 18 months. Jordan said the transition to Office 365 will enable the company to standardise on Windows 8, as part of "an ongoing evolution" of its desktop environment. The switch to the Windows 8 ecosystem would be drastic.
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