CIO interview: SSAB, Ismo Platan

When Swedish-founded steel company SSAB obtained the Rautaruukki in 2014 in Finland, CIO of Rautaruukki, Ismo Platan, became CIO of the combined organisation. Platan, who’s going to retire, tells Computer Weekly about life on top of IT at a worldwide steel company.
Based primarily in the US as well as the Nordics, SSAB has 16,000 workers across 50 states. The organization is extremely specialised, which is a requirement as it will not possess the edge of a low cost environment, said Platan.

Platan will work with Jussi Juvani, who has been nominated as the new head of IT of SSAB before he calls it a day. “I never have yet retired formally, and we don’t possess a set date for when I ‘ll,” said Platan. “I ‘ve sworn to support this transition for several months, in order that it may be carried out easily.”
Platan’s preceding transformational abilities were essential to his appointment as CIO following the amalgamation.
“I consider there were a few reasons for selecting to make me as CIO,” he said. “I helped Rautaruukki to make a huge transformation, and I’ve also been engaged in several large mergers during my profession. All these encounters have been useful.”
The most significant job of iT’s will be to actually support the company strategy of SSAB. “We wish to be the enabler. One other significant job for us will be to deliver synergies. Which is not just accurate for IT – when two firms merge, everybody has to deliver synergies.”
As far as IT was worried, the SSAB-Rautaruukki amalgamation said Platan. “The first part was fundamental integration of infrastructure, security and so forth. We managed that part exceptionally well. The next part would be to benefit from the enormous opportunities that open up. How can we make one plus one equal three?”
Company options that are common
This second phase of the amalgamation will continue for at least two to three years as it does take time to execute changes that were large in company programs, said Platan. “We will construct common company options and standardise programs, platforms, procedures, etc,” he said. “It’s fascinating, demanding, and takes lots of work.”
Up to now, nothing especially stands out about this amalgamation compared with the earlier amalgamations Platan was involved in. “It hasn’t been either more difficult or easier,” he said. “All amalgamations are distinct, but the principles are the same – and you never have a boring minute.”
Based on Platan, the amalgamation has been favorable for both firms as well as their workers. “Everybody supported it,” he said. “There’s been lots of discussion about why we’ve two steel companies in the Nordics competing with each other. We all realised we could have a more successful future together.”
The IT section of sSAB constituted about 140 individuals before the merger, and Rautaruukki had about 160. “We currently have 260 individuals in the brand new IT function – it’s straightforward that a merger generally means a decrease of workers,” he said. “Of the 260, only over 100 are in corporate IT, as well as the remainder are in our five business areas.”
Right-sourcing IT
Providers handle about 60% of the organisation’s IT, said Platan. “But outsourcing is the erroneous term – right-sourcing is the correct one. The IT function is a service brokerage, attempting to identify the most effective services in the marketplace.

“In Rautaruukki, about 70% of IT services were supplied by IT service associates, and in SSAB it was about 50%.”
The amalgamation was declared in the start of 2014, “but then we needed to watch for acceptance from the competition authorities, so we began to work collectively as a firm in September 2014”, he said.
“As in all leading amalgamations, it’s among the first functions that must be working, so we were under pressure to work collectively before acceptance was granted – not joining anything, but preparing.”

There haven’t been any major disagreements – but there are day-to-day conflicts of interest, said Platan. “We have different histories, different levels of maturity, and talk distinct languages. For this reason it’s essential to convey – to actually comprehend what the other party means.”
When folks get used to their particular systems and ways of working, it’s not easy to shift, said Platan. “For us, it is necessary to take the best from both worlds. It’s not possible to say that one of the firms has better options in relation to the other – certainly not.
“It’s significant to be open minded, and can see that one of the firms has a great remedy in a single place, as well as the other has a great remedy in another place.”

It is necessary to be open minded, and can see that one of the firms has a great remedy in a single place, as well as the other has a great remedy SSAB, in another place Ismo Platan

Fortunately for SSAB Platan and Rautaruukki were using the exact same cooperation tools. “We’d pretty much just the same products, so that was an exceptionally great starting point,” he said. “We did not need to change products, simply develop a common platform.”
The collaboration applications are the most significant IT systems, he added of SSAB. “Ten years past, I’d have said our ERP system was the main IT system. We of course still have large ERP systems, but now Skype, e-mail, cellular telephone, social networking, etc are even more significant.”
Another significant challenge will soon be going digital, although the amalgamation will continue to be the primary focus over the forthcoming years, said Platan. “Digitalisation is a tendency we cannot fight. Our new internet presence and new intranet are the first things we’ve realized in this region, and we’re also combining and harmonising customer information, so we’ll have the capacity to supply more services to our customers.”
The following step will be to analyse which regions of the distinct company sections of the organisation may reap the benefits of digital technology, said Platan. “I don’t desire to give examples, because if I say openly what we’re going to do, we will lose our advantage. But I can tell you we will become digitalised.”