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Vegetable Soup(ed) Up

Vegetable Soup(ed) Up

Joining the Chain Gang

With much of the donkey work of installing infrastructure behind him, Colovos still sees his role largely as one of a change agent. "I have very much positioned myself as a part of the business," he says, adding that his regular visits to the factory floor mean that he understands how the business works and where technology can help. But he is mindful that there are people on the factory floor who were there a decade ago doing the same job using manual ledgers, and for these people it has been important to demonstrate that the technology is not a hindrance but a help.

Colovos knows you cannot impose new technology on people and expect it to be successful - they have to want to use the technology. That said, he cannot afford to take things too slowly because customers such as Coles and Woolworths want better stock and inventory control on the part of their suppliers in order to reduce waste and improve quality. They also want portal access to their suppliers' information systems so that they can do more B2B online.

"And that goes from the grower right up to Woolworths," he says. "I've met the major growers and they've said: 'Tell us what you need and we will be there.' I've been in touch with the smaller growers and informed them of our business strategy and our IT strategy."

Growers big and small are part of the supply chain that is increasingly moving online as everyone along the chain looks for economies and advantages. In the past, smaller growers have been able to rely on the fax machine for their orders and invoicing. But Colovos believes that in the future everyone will be forced online if they want to stay in the major supply chains.

And the Climb Begins . . . As CIO magazine went to press, Colovos and other Moraitis executives made their product decision regarding the company's ERP project. Navision crossed the finish line first. In the next instalment of this moving fruit and veg tale, CIO magazine goes behind the ERP selection process and follows the rollout.

SIDEBAR: A Matter of Course

The career of Moraitis CIO Con Colovos is an exercise in serendipity

Con Colovos certainly did not expect to end up where he is now. A flair for networking - both electronic and personal - is largely responsible for his elevation to the CIO role.

After leaving school, Colovos began an economics undergraduate degree at the ANU. That did not work out for him, so he transferred to TAFE and studied for an accounting certificate. That took him as far as Alexandria in inner industrial Sydney where he was taken on by communications giant STC as a trainee accountant.

At that stage he viewed computers as a tool and nothing else but in 1988, after reading an article in a magazine about information technology, he developed an interest in computing and started voraciously reading PC magazines. He then spent $3000 on a PC and started tinkering.

From his reading he had worked out there was a race on in the corporate sector to install networks - mostly Novell networks - and Colovos decided to take some of his economics training and put it to work in the field of supply and demand: if the market was demanding Novell skills and paying highly for them, then Colovos would supply them.

A friend was installing Novell networks at Telstra and for six months he spent each weekend by his friend's side as an unpaid apprentice, learning what he could. He felt a greater affinity for the networks than he did for the accounts books and so took his first IT job as a systems administrator in an engineering firm. It was something of a gamble given his lack of formal qualifications in IT and with a young family also to support - but the bet paid off.

After the initial stint and some experience under his belt, Colovos moved to Qantas where he was a Novell administrator, before the same networking skills took him to St George Bank. In 1993 his networking skills and the people networks that permeate the IT community led him to his first IT management role at the NSW Attorney-General's Department where he had an annual IT budget of $3 million and 800 users to accommodate. In 1997 he moved to the Commonwealth Bank as technical services manager with 35 staff and 9000 users to keep happy - just before the role was outsourced to EDS. Colovos moved across to EDS for some months, working on various contracts including steering Pepsi Cola Australia's search for a new ERP.

In 1999 Colovos plunged into the dotcom pond joining Shopfast.com.au in its first week of operations, and stayed until the dotcoms went bust.

So it was back to contracts - this time with Com Tech, which is where he was when his daughter's school friend's father came calling.

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