25 Q&As: Milking e-commerce, not the IT budget

As part of Computerworld's silver anniversary celebrations 25 IT managers recall the ups and downs of their careers. Here, Garry Whatley, CIO, Corporate Express Australia, Rosebery, NSW, shares his experiences with Rodney Gedda.

How do you want one of the key IT technologies at your company to develop over the coming three to five years?

Definitely our NetXpress Internet ordering solution. We have around 70,000 users and transact more than 50 per cent of our business through this site, and this is over $400 million. We have spent the past two years totally re-architecting and redeveloping this solution and have received glowing accolades from our customers. My personal target over the next two to three years is to increase the NetXpress transaction rate to around 80 per cent of our business.

What is the biggest challenge facing IT managers now?

Regaining credibility. Years of vendors overselling their solutions, large consulting organisations looking for opportunities to grow PS (post sales) revenue from continually “milking” organisations, large project overruns, poor project management and poor change management practices . . . the list goes on. This is not representative of every situation but it is reflective of many . . . too many. IT is tarnished for its “sins of the past”. I am heartened by many changes I currently see to the above situation but regaining credibility will not happen overnight, it will be a slow process.

What would you tell someone entering IT?

Once you start you get addicted! I think it is one of the most rewarding and frustrating careers that one could have. The pace of change is relentless, but this is the buzz you live for. I think the other piece of advice especially with regards to IT management in a commercial business, is that it is all about business and business is people. Communication skills and change management (together with project management) are critical. These are the things that normally make or break projects.

What tertiary qualifications do you have?

An MBA, degrees in accounting, marketing and IT and recently graduated as a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Fast facts: Annual turnover: $800 million. Employees: 1700. IT users: 1700. Key applications: ERP — Masterpack eProcurement NetExpress; WMS — Manhattan PkMS, Siemens Pick Director; e-mail — Exchange. Key infrastructure — hardware: IBM pSeries and Intel based Servers; networking: Cisco Routers and Telstra TPIPS; operating systems: AIX and Linux.

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More about Australian Institute of Company DirectorsCorporate ExpressCorporate ExpressIBM AustraliaIntelMasterpackSiemensTelstra Corporation

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