European airline chief urges CEOs to give CIOs an unlimited budget

Vueling’s CEO, Alex Cruz, has called on other company heads to give their CIOs a ‘theoretical’ unlimited budget in a bid to drive innovation and change.

Speaking today at SITA’s Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels, the European budget airline chief argued that CIOs should have the freedom to undergo as many projects as they like, as long as they are delivering a return on investment (ROI) within three months.

“When we look at project management, we are going to have to take some uncomfortable steps. Forget about big projects, for instance. No-one will ever come to me and present a project that lasts more than three months. It just won’t work,” said Cruz.

He added: “We upgraded our reservation system and got a ROI within three months. My CIO knows that he has an unlimited yearly budget. He has an assigned budget, as we all do, but he knows he can go above that at any time.”

“What allows him to break the budget is a very clear proposition of a brand new service or feature that will deliver a return within that short period. If you tell a CIO this then it completely creates a new set of rules, because everyone in the department starts to think there are no limits.”

Computerworld UKspoke to Virgin Atlantic’s IT director, David Bulman, who said that funding at Virgin’s airline for IT is always available if the project makes sense.

“Thankfully I don’t have to have a three month ROI, I would struggle to get some of my projects in under three months with a return – three years maybe,” he said.

“Nothing is really unlimited either, it has to have a case to it. But any project that has a good case, providing we have the resources and capability to do it, then yes, we can get the funding for it.”

Bulman also believes that this wasn’t always the case for CIOs, but there has been change in perception by CEOs and the board in recent years.

“This wasn’t the case a couple of years. It really is recognition that to do some of the things that we want to do with customer service and to drive more of cost out of the airline we have got to use technology,” he said.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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