"I always sleep with one eye open"
Atea's CIO Johanna Kjellberg builds companies that, with the right information flows, are ready for change.
- I always sleep with one eye open because you have to be able to quickly reorganize a company - scale up, down, acquire or integrate. Then you quickly get down to bits and bytes and information flows.
The happy Gothenburg citizen's career has gone from the days when Ericsson was by far Sweden's largest and most important company, over to companies such as KappAhl and Grant Thornton to finally land as CIO at Sweden's largest IT company, Atea. The industries may have been different, but a common denominator is building information structures that make the information reliable and flow correctly between systems and platforms.
If you can't trust that the information available is correct, it doesn't matter that the systems are user-friendly and pleasant.
Atea is a merger of many companies and for many years they have worked to integrate the operations. Unlike several previous assignments, there was something already integrated when Johanna Kjellberg entered her assignment, which she is "very grateful for". However, the widespread entrepreneurial spirit at the company - which is, of course, an enormous strength - can sometimes cause this.
- We don't want to kill the entrepreneurial spirit, at the same time I and the IT department have to create frameworks for the information to be correct and handled with the utmost care, not least with regard to GDPR.
One solution has been to create a so-called architectural council where new systems and applications must be approved and matched against the long-term plan. Building a sustainable architecture can be compared to working with urban planning and sometimes it is even the case that a business challenge or opportunity is not always solved with a new system or IT solution. Everything depends on fundamentally efficient processes.
- An architect's council may sound old-fashioned but is actually necessary because the creativity at Atea is great.
In order for the company not to suffer from growing pains or stagnation due to the rapid growth, it is necessary to constantly work on efficiencies - here the entire company management runs various processes so that customers feel that it is easy to do business with Atea. An automation center will be started in order for processes to be made more efficient, among other things with so-called Robotic process automation. All existing applications and systems are diagnosed according to five criteria and the plan is to introduce an ICC – Integration Competency Center.
We simply have to make sure that we use good systems and that the right information flows in the right way. It is not more difficult than that.