In mid-2014, Tatts Group CIO Mandy Ross started experimenting with introducing lean methods and creating agile project teams to test and prove that a more responsive way of working could be achieved in such a highly regulated industry.\nTwo years later, two pilot projects are now very much a key part of the organisation\u2019s regular operating environment \u2013 one to integrate a third party booking app into its wagering platform, and another to launch its retail betting offering \u2018UBET Live\u2019.\nThe projects \u2013 although inhibited a few times by hardware design \u2013 are perfect examples of taking customer feedback and building it into a product, Ross tells CIO Australia.\nUBET Live, which allows users to place bets using a customised app running on tablets in retail settings such as pubs and clubs, has been piloted in two venues in Queensland and will be rolled out at 20 venues across the state over the next six months, Ross says.\nThe third party booking feed initiative, which saw the company\u2019s range of products offered online increase from hundreds to thousands, has already had a positive impact on revenue being generated by its wagering business, Ross says.\nThe offering aligns with laws around live betting that only permits gamblers to place live bets in a retail setting.\n\u201cSome corporate bookmakers are operating in a grey area. \u2018UBET Live\u2019 enables the consumer to place a bet during the game using tablet devices in retail. It\u2019s not legal to use your own device to do that,\u201d Ross says.\nTatts Group now has 12 development teams who are on an agile journey, in \u201csome way, shape or form\u201d she says.\n\u201cEveryone has had initial training \u2013 teams are at different stages. Digital teams are often more advanced than some of the traditional platform teams,\u201d she says.\nDigital teams are releasing fortnightly and weekly application upgrades compared to monthly upgrades previously. Teams that have been traditionally responsible for supporting Tatts\u2019 core platforms, which are similar to banking systems, have also moved from quarterly to monthly releases.\nRoss says Tatts will continue to push harder on both fronts to reduce release times even further.\n\u201cThere\u2019s a lot we've had to do from a training point of view with staff, to equip them with the right tools to do the job. We\u2019ve done a lot of technical work around that in terms of automation and tooling.\u201d\nRoss has also worked to increase the visibility of IT-led activities within the organisation, allowing various business units to provide more input into projects, specifically initiatives that are being developed through agile rituals such as \u2018morning stand ups and showcases'.\n\u201cWe are showcasing the latest product or changes every fortnight, so that visibility is enhancing us [the IT group] as being viewed as a partner within our business units,\u201d Ross says.\n\u201cThe principles and techniques that we are implementing are now becoming the new Tatts ways of working and we\u2019ve made it our regular environment.\u201d\nBut the journey is not done and Tatts is still educating staff on the benefits of a more agile culture, making it safe for them to experiment, and illustrating internal examples where teams have achieved good outcomes, says Ross.\nA key challenge in moving to this new way of working was to ensure the gaming and wagering industry\u2019s regulators would provide their support. This meant engaging with the regulators early and often, says Ross.\n\u201cOvercoming that barrier has been an internal issue, but the regulators have been very happy to engage with us and lot of what we are doing is actually improving visibility and transparency for them,\u201d Ross says.\n\u201cAutomation is a good thing from a regulative point of view because it introduces repeatability. With the regulators, we\u2019ve found a lot of reasonable people who are very supportive of what we are doing.\u201d\nAnother challenge of moving this environment is dealing with the misconceptions and misunderstandings around what being agile actually means.\n\u201cEveryone has their own perceptions of what that means, or experiences and war stories. What I have tended to do is move away from the popular words and starting talking about it in terms of our way of working and customising it for our environment so we are not just taking something from another company,\u201d Ross says.\n\u201cWe are taking the best of the practices that are available in our industry. Agile means different things to different people but we have really been defining what it means for Tatts.\u201d\nTatts Group is focusing on attracting local digital talent to help build the organisation\u2019s digital capabilities, says Ross.\nUnlike one of its competitors, Tabcorp, Tatts Group hasn\u2019t looked abroad for people with digital skills but will do so if the local talent pool is exhausted. Ross says there are potential partners in Eastern Europe, the Philippines, and Vietnam where there there\u2019s some \u201cfantastic skills.\u201d\n\u201cWhere we are at in our transformation journey, it\u2019s really important that we build a core capability, then as we need to scale, we will look at all of the reasonable options for achieving that,\u201d Ross says.\nA hybrid future\nUnder a new infrastructure transformation initiative, Tatts Group has created a hybrid infrastructure strategy that includes using co-location and cloud services. This coincides with plans to re-locate to a new office in Brisbane city in early 2017 and is a significant move away from its traditional strategy of owning and operating data centres.\nRoss says the organisation is already making use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings for commodity services like HR, which don\u2019t necessarily differentiate the organisation from its competitors.\n\u201cWe are working to find the right balance; our considerations are around what we can do from a regulatory point of view \u2013 we want to be responsible on that front.\n\u201cWhere it is most cost-effective for us to use cloud services, we will, and there might be scenarios where the proposition isn\u2019t there and we\u2019ll use \u2018co-lo\u2019 facilities.\u201d\nSome digital assets, such as Tatts\u2019 corporate website, are already in the cloud, but Ross says she wants to push more across to take advantage of the agility and cost savings provided by cloud services.\n\u201cIt\u2019s very convenient because it\u2019s an opportunity for us to leapfrog and position ourselves in a way that is quite future proof and we are able to take advantage of all of these fantastic capabilities that are out there in the market today.\u201d\nMandy Ross will discuss how to enable digital transformation by building an agile framework, process and culture at the Women in Tech conference in Sydney on June 15.