ICT budgets, staff numbers and projects are again on the rise for Mainfreight, the latter by as much as 20 percent. Offshore numbers have increased dramatically as a result of the acquisition of the Wim Bosman Group in Europe. Information technology is used to “support and complement the operations, and bring greater efficiencies,” says the CIO Kevin Drinkwater.
An ambitious project portfolio for 2012 includes a Windows Server 2008 migration, an Exchange 2010 migration and continued work on the new US domestic freight system project, which is scheduled for release in 2013. In its overseas branches, Mainfreight NZ is overseeing the finalisation of a move to Exchange 2010 and continued virtualisation projects. ICT investment for the global supply chain investment firm is carefully considered and weighed against business objectives, rather than implementing technology for technology’s sake, says Drinkwater. “There are still many organisations making unwise decisions in regard to their choices of critical software systems. There continues to be a trend of buying an ERP system because you are told you should have one, and then implementation gets out of control.
“This often happens as there are not enough directors on boards who know much about technology (and sometimes the business itself) and, therefore, do not ask the right questions. The reporting of the CIO to the CFO does not help, either, as often there is too much emphasis on the cost perspective rather than getting the solution right long-term.” Incidentally, Drinkwater’s CIO role reports directly into the Mainfreight CEO, a structure that has proven to be both smart and lucrative for the company.