CIO50 2021 #26-50 Claudio Salinas, Blackwoods
At Wesfarmers-owned Blackwoods, a provider of industrial and safety supplies, is a 140-year old organisation that is undergoing digital transformation after realising that underinvestment in enterprise technologies was holding back business growth.
This increased costs and limited the organisation’s ability to use data and digital assets to improve customer experiences.
Blackwoods’ chief information officer, Claudio Salinas, and his team embarked on a transformation program to replace a 35-year old COBOL-based ERP and 16 core business applications, and consolidate five middleware platforms into a single cloud instance.
Firstly, Salinas has led the creation of a digital workplace to enable corporate and business functions to work on any device from any location using digital workplace tools. His team deployed Office365, Teams, remote access and Citrix services and a cyber security program. Change management and education was also part of this program.
The final component was the build and implementation of business operational self-service capabilities. This included BI Data Services and MS Power Platform services supporting basic production of basic internal apps and automation.
“While none of these separately are particularly innovative, collectively they have transformed the business capability, enabling us to effectively navigate COVID, as well as allowing Blackwoods to execute a business transformation in a remote situation,” Salinas says.
Secondly, the team rolled out commerce platform SAP Hybris, an ERP program (MS Dynamics 365, FinOps and CE), spanning finance, advanced warehousing and distribution, product information management, and CRM.
In addition, a hybrid cloud program to upgrade on-premise data centre infrastructure and the migration of candidate workloads and applications to Azure Cloud Services.
“This program is strategically important for Blackwoods and aims to improve customer and employee experiences. It is also the foundation for scaling the business and acceleration of data and digital initiatives to further enhance our customer value propositions,” he says.
The bulk of this transformation program was delivered in a COVID-restricted period.
“During this time, not only did we deliver the programs, we transitioned close to 1800 staff to work from home and three customer service call centres of 400 staff to work remotely.
“While the ERP is still in progress, we are delivering this business transformation with a complete remote workforce, using remote teams in Australia, the US, Europe, and India,” he says.
The program has enabled around $500 million of revenue to transact through digital channels and enabled the fast transition of a traditional office and branch-based business to a remote digitally-enabled business.
Perfection doesn’t exist
Realising that perfection does not exist is Salinas’ biggest career lesson.
“Humanity and humility are cultural behaviours that I value, I use these core values to build and engage teams and drive them within my leadership team. I have learned those lessons from many experiences both as a leader and team member,” he says.
The foundation of a high performing team with strong and respectful values was the core to a successful execution of this transformation program.
Salinas’ team has also served him on a personal level. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2020 and spent six months working part-time during treatment.
“My team stepped up, took ownership and accountability. The team not only covered the gap that I left, but continued to deliver the transformation program and business outcomes.”