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Virgin Trains CIO departs legacy platform

Virgin Trains Voyager“A challenge was that we had some old rail legacy suppliers,” says CIO of Virgin Trains John Sullivan.

Sullivan, CIO of Virgin Trains since January 2015, told the Box World Tour event that since joining the high speed rail service provider there has been a strategy of adopting cloud services from Amazon, Box, Google and ServiceNow.

Virgin Trains has 38 million customers per annum the CIO said. Sullivan is now responsible for all projects, including the resurfacing of train platforms as well as driving the digital agenda. The former retail IT Director said digital was necessary for the rail company to increase its customer focus. Sullivan admitted that the complexity of ticketing on the UK’s rail network is a challenge not only for customers, but also front line rail staff. Virgin Trains is using scanning and collaboration tools to speed up the identification of whether tickets are valid.

“Being creative with technology is important,” Sullivan said.

John Sullivan CIO“If you want to transform business, you very much have to be part of the business. You have to live and breathe the business. The best days for me are when I go to the stations,” he said.  Sullivan (left) said the projects his team are working on are “what people want” in the organisation.

As any UK rail passenger knows, “you have to be resilient,” Sullivan said of leading change in an organisation. “If you think every day is going to be good you are deluding yourself.” Virgin Trains has adopted agile methods and is seeing major benefits from small scale adoption of change, though the CIO said some times large scale change is the only way.

“The business wants me and IT to learn lessons and take it on the chin,” he said.

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About Mark Chillingworth 278 Articles
Mark Chillingworth has over 20 years of journalism and editing experience across all media platforms including online, live events, print magazines and television.
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