'Don't think too much about technology': EAT's IT chief on how to serve up successful projects

Interview: Sandwich chain tech chief on NFC, tablets and getting creative with tech...

...changing by the second, minute, hour, throughout the day. You might have launched a product which is a breakfast product and you want to know how that's doing after you've launched it. You don't want to know the next day - you want to know there and then.

"Business intelligence is obviously at the heart of ecommerce - because if you don't know what's going on you don't know how well you're doing."

Other projects Batsford and his eight-strong IT team have recently put to bed include a major IT infrastructure upgrade, to ensure site-to-site failover back-up, and a virtualisation upgrade. "I introduced virtualisation quite a few years back but we've just upgraded that so we use products like VMware to virtualise most of our servers," he said.

Wi-fi for customers and staff

Free customer wi-fi has also been a recent focus for EAT. "We've rolled wi-fi out to the majority of our stores - to customers as well," says Batsford.

The company will also be upgrading its tills in the near future, installing Poindus POS systems which include biometric readers for security and feature large projected capacitive touchscreens.

"[These touchscreens are] the technology of choice for retailers," Batsford said. "It's glass which means employees can't use implements to stab the screen with - they have to use their finger which means it's 100 times more hard-wearing than resistive screens."

"It almost looks like an iPad as well," he said.

What does an IT chief need to do to be successful in today's business world?

Don't be afraid to shout about your successes, says Batsford, as being able to sell IT projects to executives is now a key part of the job.

It's a good policy to benchmark projects to ensure you have clear success criteria - and then sell your successes to the rest of the business. The goal is to convince the business to keep reinvesting in IT, according to the IT chief.

"If you can get that that means that success builds in success builds in success. If IT's just seen as an operational cost then you'll never get those budgets that will really transform the business."

"Too many IT projects... are not managed particularly well," he added. "Play people to their strengths in your team - don't stick them in goal if they're an out and out striker.

"It's about building relationships and supporting people as well but knowing how to run your projects and delivering them and executing them and reviewing them thereafter is really important. Then come back to the business and say, 'Look at the ROI we got on this'."

But not all IT work is about the numbers - there's fun to be had too.

"My job at EAT is really about the creative side of technology," Batsford said. "There's a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes but it's actually creating fun, inspiring people - giving them ideas that they can then turn into reality."

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox