Royal Mail's new CIO says people come first

Winning the hearts and minds of the workforce is the most important challenge in effecting business transformation, said David...

Winning the hearts and minds of the workforce is the most important challenge in effecting business transformation, said David Burden, Royal Mail's chief information officer.

The workforce should come before business process change, which should come before technology, he said, addressing the latest meeting of the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee in November.

"You can't achieve anything without your staff," he said, "Policy and processes are necessary, and technology is important, but both are secondary to people."

Burden did not underestimate his challenge at Royal Mail, where he is also a board member. "We have about 200,000 employees, 17,000 branches and handle 27% of the UK's cash every week," he said.

"We have a lot of automation but are not using it well," he said. "To compete we need to use new technology properly."

Burden aims to fix immediate problems by working with unions, and wants to start by improving "soul destroying jobs" where people sort mail that has already been sorted electronically.

Burden is keen to ensure that e-services are accessible to the workforce and wants to facilitate IT awareness. Burden achieved this in his last post as CIO of Qantas Airlines in Australia by allowing staff to access personal services on work PCs

"At Qantas we encouraged people to use online services from the workplace," he said. "It is more efficient to do banking from your desk than to leave the office and spend hours in a queue."

Pitcom explains IT to politicians

The all-Party Parliamentary IT Committee (Pitcom) is 22 years old and meets regularly to discuss the economic and social impact of IT with Parliamentarians.

Pitcom has nearly 400 members, drawn from a wide background of MPs, peers, corporate IT user and supplier companies, plus individual members.

Pitcom is a sister organisation to Eurim, a Parliamentary/industry lobby group which assess what impact upcoming legislative issues will have on IT.

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