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You can bet on IT

Tim Mendham | Nov. 4, 2013
Keeping core systems online is vital when you're processing transactions for one of Australia's largest sporting events

But IT technical qualifications she does have, and from an early age, Wenn had a strong interest in computing, which she describes as a "family habit".

From developer to CIO
Wenn obtained a graduate IT position at Rosella Lipton and then proceeded to complete her formal education at night school over a number of years.

Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Computer Science, and a Masters in Management and Technology. She traversed what she says is the typical software developer career path, starting in coding, progressing through to project management, development management and then to CIO.

She's worked in a mix of environments that she says gave her a "great foundation". These include a period overseas working for Scottish Widows and in Australia with ISV Quest Software, and large corporate organisations.

"It gives away my age I guess, but I've been lucky enough to enjoy 30 fabulous years in an industry I love, and one that changes so rapidly I don't have time to get bored."

Managing those changes requires careful planning, and Tabcorp is developing a three-year strategy to deliver on financial objectives. This year part of that strategy is rolling out new products across a number of channels, expanding content and enhancing digital channels.

The competitive landscape in Australia has changed vastly in the last five to seven years with international bookmakers entering the marketplace.

"They can only compete online, so we have to be the best in digital to grow market share. We are also focused on digital convergence into our retail offering to deliver greater customer experience in our retail stores," Wenn says.

Tabcorp's customers increasingly interact with the company using mobile devices. In FY12, 11 per cent of digital transactions were through a mobile device; that's now grown to more than 50 per cent. Those 2000 bets per second on Melbourne Cup day therefore bring great significance to the IT operation.

"We've created a new digital technology team who embrace agile development practices and are releasing new content and new functionality to our customers regularly. Fortunately, we invested in a service bus and APIs that have enabled us to quickly respond to new devices and new opportunities," says Wenn.

Connecting with the community
Wenn takes her relationships beyond the confines of Tabcorp itself. She runs an international CIO community for totalisator operators.

Almost every participant faces the problem of ageing backend totalisator software — although it does have 15 years of performance tuning and defect fixes, says Wenn. She adds that there isn't an off-the-shelf offering that can meet the processing demands of big events such as the Melbourne Cup.

"I've been working with other CIOs to see if a joint venture arrangement where we use the same totalisator software could work. We don't see the core dividend calculation as a competitive differentiator and as such can be viewed as commodity.


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