Chief Information Officer
‘130 countries, 100,000 employees. That’s one way to explain the complexity of IT.’
Total is big. It is the premier company in France, operating in 130 countries with nearly 100,000 employees. So size does matter. Our 2008 IT budget is around one billion euros. Our IT Department comprises 2,000 staff and 2,500 contractors, and we manage 80,000 PCs and 1,000-odd servers. That’s one way to explain the complexity of IT within Total.
Complexity also stems from the differences between the business units. Total is involved in a great variety of businesses: from exploration and production (E&P), to refining, trading and shipping through to marketing, as well as gas, power and chemicals, including petrochemical and speciality chemical subsidiaries. Take E&P, for instance. It produces oil, and relies on a complex information system for exploration, scientific calculation, etc., but it has no customers. On the other hand, marketing deals with millions of customers visiting nearly 20,000 service stations all over the world. As you can imagine, there are as many different needs as there are business lines in Total, each calling for its own specific and complex information system.
Add to this our significant geographical span: we operate in Europe, the US, Africa and South America, and we are often in environments where there’s absolutely no IT infrastructure. Take E&P platforms, for instance, or some refineries.
Globalization also adds another layer of complexity because competitiveness is now measured at a global level. Providing IT services to our business lines at the right level and at the right cost is an ever-increasing challenge. Not only are we in strong competition with all the major players, but also with Indian and Chinese companies. We have to remain competitive. Speed is the key factor; the quick adoption of new technologies, from Web 2.0 to feature interaction detection (FID), keeps us one step ahead of the competition.
We have a strong, well-orchestrated IT governance. While Total is a decentralized group and operations are managed at business unit level, IT strategy and policies are the sole responsibility of the central IT department. However, within each business unit, there’s an IT department aligned to that particular business. It’s not a simple solution; in fact it’s quite complex, but it is one that works well for Total. So the information system of each business unit is supported by a common global architecture that’s been built centrally.
In talking about a global infrastructure, I am actually looking into the future: it has not been realized yet but it’s the objective we’re working towards via a dedicated project codenamed ‘Perspective 2008’. With this new infrastructure, all the components from workstations to network security and telephone systems will be upgraded. This strategic transformation project will deliver unique workstations using Web 2.0 capability, thus increasing inter-business unit co-operation. The whole project will be implemented from 2008 to 2012, everywhere in the world.
So how did Sogeti become part of this? We set up the Perspective 2008 taskforce in 2006, with a team involving people from all IT units and departments, 25 in all. The team was tasked with designing the architecture, and the engineering was entrusted to contractors. Three domains were considered: workstations, networks and security, and the service management of the infrastructure. The workstation project – called Vision – is probably the most strategic and we chose Sogeti to take charge of the design. We considered Sogeti to have the most appropriate competences and capabilities to deliver on such a crucial project.
There are significant challenges with ‘Perspective 2008’. First, completion on time is of utmost importance. We must finish the design by mid-2008 in order to deploy the first pilot in September. The pilot phase must be perfect; we have to have a complete solution; we cannot afford to introduce big changes at a later stage.
Second we need to really meet the needs of the users. On his workstation, each user will have video conferencing, instant messaging, unified communications. Users will need to adapt to this integrated communication environment as it will definitely have an impact on the way they work. Our job is to guide them through that change and ensure a smooth transition.
Last, we need to encourage behavioural changes in our own IT teams so that we can deliver the level of service that the various businesses expect. Of course technical challenges are important, but they have to be matched by the appropriate behavioural changes. Leave the human factors out of the equation and no change will happen. That’s not an option: change has to become a reality.
Our ambition is pretty demanding. We want to be able to give the same level of service, from the same Total Vision workstation, to all our staff in Europe, USA, Asia, Africa – in fact everywhere in the world! Our information systems will be equally accessible from home, from the office, from a hotel, from any country, or any subsidiary, and even from every E&P platform!
In today’s international business environment, we need to share more and more information, in a more collaborative environment, with easy access from everywhere. As I said, it’s quite a challenge and I will be really proud if the project is delivered on time. And we’re counting on Sogeti to help us on this.
More references here