Cover Story


Introducing Martin Wallgren

Chief Information Officer

When growing up in Gothenburg Sweden, there are two major things that you can do: either you go to sea or you build cars at Volvo. After university, I chose the shipping industry as I have always loved the ocean and ships. To be honest, I love everything that you can drive or operate. That’s my passion in life.

I started working with computers and IT at the age of 12 and since then it has gone from hobby to profession. I have a degree in computer science and electronics and an entrepreneurial background in bringing companies to life. I started my first company when I was 18 years old, selling compost bins called Green Johanna in Sweden. Since then there have always been different types of companies in my family, from restaurants to debt-collection.

More recently I was CIO for the Swedish group Stena AB, whose subsidiaries are engaged in ferry operations, shipping, offshore drilling, property, finance and investments. As CIO, I was responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals. The goal was to transform IT into a tool in the process of developing the business. My team also moved the group through a digital transformation. Digitalization is the integration of digital technologies and people to change the business model, automate workflows and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities. The journey of change for a mature company is called Digital Transformation.

Joining GAC

Now I have moved from Sweden to Dubai with my wife Sofia and our sons Victor and Vince. Becoming an expat has been on the agenda for many years and we really enjoy it. The mix of cultures and people from different backgrounds is what I like most.

The IT task

GAC is not a big company. It is a big group of small companies. This makes the daily life of a Group CIO very complex. Fortunately, complexity creates innovation and simplicity creates boredom. This is why I love the challenges that we have in front of us.

Everyone talks about the digital world and so do we at GAC. There is a lot of planning and small activities going on and there is much more to come. With new technology, we cannot spend years and years before anything gets done as so many companies have done in the past. We need to adopt a more ‘Silicon Valley’ way of thinking and acting. Part of this new mindset requires us to be open and willing to co-operate with external companies. Neither the industry as a whole, nor GAC, is able to move forward alone.

So how will GAC Group enter the digital world?

In Group IT we will focus on two things:

  • running the business
  • and developing the business.

Running!

We have started what we call "Renovating the Digital Core". This is similar to establishing a baseline to work from. As an example, we will finish the rollout of Dolphin.net and GACfreight.net to all offices during 2017.

This will give us the possibility to focus on future development. We will also dig deep down into how we do our daily operations. And we’ll document it.

Developing!

We have begun building a digital platform under the name ‘Pegasus’. It covers 5 areas:

Intelligence

Make decisions based on facts

Customer

Digitally connect to our customers

Ecosystem

Digitally connect to peers and other companies in our ecosystem

Sense

Connect our assets and operational sensors to gather and send data (also called the Internet of things)

IT Systems

Make sure we have customer-focused and up-to-date IT systems

The Challenge

At GAC we must move forward bimodally. We must keep developing the systems we have now while planning and introducing the systems we’ll need tomorrow. But it’s a challenge that I enjoy. Businesses are seeking higher growth in a low growth environment and are looking to boost their prospects overseas. We can already see this in our own financials. At the same time digital disruption is changing the whole business landscape and reshaping investment strategies. Technology is transforming business models, changing consumer preferences and blurring sector boundaries.

This rapid digital transformation is creating major opportunities for businesses. Executives are now focusing on digital-related investments to manage costs and secure innovation, competitive advantage and market share for the foreseeable future.

Capitalizing on the digital challenge requires us to explore the changing business landscape and the opportunities available to companies which move faster than the competition. It also considers the complexity and risks related to developing a robust digital strategy.

Since GAC is a group of small companies, we have the luxury of moving fast when it comes to change. In Group IT, I’ve got a good team to work with. But success requires teamwork with all the business areas and I intend to keep you updated on our progress during the Delta 21 period – and beyond.

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