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Ex-government digital chief Mike Bracken brings GDS colleagues to Co-operative Group

Mike Bracken, former government digital chief, has outlined his plans for digital transformation in his role at the Co-operative Group

The Co-operative Group’s chief digital officer (CDO), Mike Bracken, has outlined plans to evolve the consumer group’s digital strategy.

This includes hiring colleagues who worked with him during his time as the government’s digital chief.

“Our aim in digital is to be open, agile and have a relentless focus on members – existing ones and new ones,” Bracken said in a blog post.

“To achieve this, we will need to build on our position of trust with our members, create teamwork around a commitment to digital excellence, and continue to develop and attract the best digital skills.”

Among those announced as joining the Co-op’s digital initiative were Russell Davies, Tom Loosemore, Ben Terrett and Mat Wall – all of whom worked with Bracken to start the Government Digital Service (GDS).

“We’re used to working as a team, so we hope it won’t take us long to get up and going,” said Bracken.

“This group brings extraordinary skills and experience to the Co-op, and I’m delighted that we’ve persuaded them to join us, but they won’t be the last brilliant digital people we’ll bring in.”

Russell Davies, who worked as creative director and director of strategy at GDS, will be taking the role of digital strategy director to define the digital strategy across the Co-op group.

Digital services director, responsible for creating the Co-op’s digital services, will be Tom Loosemore, who was responsible for digital strategy at the GDS as well as running alpha and beta testing on the Gov.uk service after it was launched.

Ben Terrett will be group design director responsible for working on Co-op’s brand after holding a similar role as director of design at GDS, leading the design team who worked on Gov.uk.

Mat Wall, who was a technical architect at GDS, will look into the Co-op’s digital and data architecture. He had a similar role in government, but was already part of the Co-op before Mike Bracken joined.

Bracken said the Co-op’s shift to digital would include initiatives such as communicating with members online instead of by post, which will save the firm more than £500,000.

“We are here to make the Co-operative a world-leading digital player as we continue our rebuild phase,” said Bracken.

“Our ambition is bold: To re-create the Co-operative for a digital era, and demonstrate a different way of doing business for an increasingly connected community.”

Once Bracken has reviewed all of the appropriate teams, a reshuffle may occur in November 2015, when the CDO plans to “look at our organisational set-up”.

Bracken, alongside Loosemore, Wall, Terrett and Davies, set up the GDS to improve digital services across government, both internally and public-facing.

GDS springboard for Co-op

The GDS developed the Gov.uk website to act as a platform for citizens to access government information and services from a single location, as opposed to the hundreds of siloed websites and services that previously existed.

It then went on the develop government as a platform strategy, a model by which common platforms can be built and used across government departments when applicable rather than individual organisations replicating systems.

But Bracken announced his departure from government to join the Co-op in the summer of 2015, after which many other senior leader’s in the government’s digital team also jumped ship.

The GDS will be publishing plans detailing the future of digital government by the end of 2015 to clarify some concerns raised about the GDS’s ongoing digital effort following Bracken’s departure.  

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