As a top 10 global animal health company, Ceva Sante Animale conducts business in more than 40 countries. To support its 3,000 employees, Ceva CIO Francois Tricot built an IT infrastructure with a mission – to make all applications available on any device and any network. Four years after implementing his “Beyond the Cloud” strategy, Tricot has reduced overall IT spending by 30 percent. I sat down with him to learn more about how he did it.

Alexandra Levit: Tell us a little about your company. What kind of growth are you experiencing?

Francois Tricot: Ceva Santé Animale was founded in 1999 and operates directly in 42 countries, with 21 plants and 13 R&D centers and about 3500 employees. Ceva doubles its turnover every five or six years when the market has five percent growth. The company regularly makes acquisitions. There is rarely a quarter without some exciting news in the company.

Levit: Why was it necessary to overhaul your IT strategy?

Tricot: Just a short time ago, nobody was using a smartphone or a tablet. But Ceva people are always in the field: salespeople perform veterinary clinic and farm visits all the time, corporate marketing is abroad half the time, etc.. Moreover, the IT landscape has dramatically changed in the last 10 years, and cloud computing is a real industrial revolution for IT and for businesses. When a company wants to keep its IT expenses low and has to experience strong growth with a small team, it’s not possible to manage all of the necessary computing resources in house.

Levit: You have managed to reduce IT spending significantly. Take us through your process.

Tricot: We quickly established our vision: deliver all applications through an Internet connection, into a browser, with no requirement on the desktop. This is what happens when we use personal services at home like banks or airlines, but it’s virtually unheard of in the realm of enterprise software. In today’s world, people have iOS and Android devices and want to connect to Ceva applications wherever they are, whenever they need to, so we made all of our software compatible with all major browsers.

Using SaaS and “Database as a Service” platforms, we were able to provide software and custom applications to all users while reducing the dependency on platforms and networks. By letting people connect with their own devices, we have reduced costs while giving users more options. As the latest providers to remove device requirements and allow custom application development, Quickbase and Google Apps have been our top partners.

So in a nutshell, selecting software requiring only a browser to run and making our applications accessible through any regular Internet connection is what defines our “Beyond the Cloud” strategy. It’s the cloud plus the same principles applied to more classic software. I claim that Ceva IT is 100 percent Internet, 100 percent mobile, and 30 percent cheaper thanks to the new approach.

Levit: How did you motivate team members who resisted the changes you were making?

Tricot: Some people were skeptical at first, but we demonstrated month after month that IT performance was greater even with reduced resources and very high security standards. And because our people need to spend less time micromanaging processes, some of them have even been able to move onto other teams and serve the organization there.

Levit: Other than change resisters, what was your most significant change management challenge?

Tricot: People were accustomed to our old message and collaboration system, and there was a steep learning curve moving to more advanced technology. But thanks to the speed of the IT revolution in the personal realm, Ceva’s changes thankfully made sense to them.

Levit: What’s next for the “Beyond the Cloud” strategy? What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

Tricot: Our last major milestone in the “Beyond the Cloud” strategy is to convert all users to an office cloud suite (Google Docs) as opposed to the currently installed one (MS Office). Even though people love the idea of accessibility in all situations, this is a change they aren’t universally comfortable with. But it’s the final piece for everything to work as it should!

Thanks, Francois!