Since moving into the CIO role at Echo Entertainment Group in 2011, Kel Telford has undertaken a number of IT improvement projects for the New South Wales and Queensland casino operator.
One of these was an application outsourcing agreement with Capgemini which followed the demerger of Echo Entertainment Group and Tabcorp Holdings in June 2011.
A five-year deal was signed in March 2012 which included the maintenance and services of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) on Oracle platforms including payroll and other HR functions.
Telford spoke to CIO Australia about what’s been happening at the company since the demerger.
What are some of the projects you have been working on?
Since the outsourcing agreement with Capgemini, there has been a 40 per cent reduction in incidents and our availability is sitting at close to 100 per cent. We are now looking at collaborations such as project management because we have Capgemini staff on site with skills in this area.
We use a Konami gaming system at the Star Casino in Sydney and we’ll be rolling that system out in Queensland. That should be completed by July 2013.
Overall, the business wants to make sure that when our VIPs and international players come in, the experience they have at one casino is the same in every property. That’s why we are rolling out the same systems in our four properties.
Another area we want to improve is our loyalty program. In the future, we would love to know that a patron is now on the property and likes to eat at one of our restaurants such as Fat Noodle. We already have the technology through a foundation we are putting in place using wireless Internet and mobility strategies.
We can do some of those targeted SMS messages right now if we wanted to but we want to make sure that we get it right. The targeting has to be to the right person.
Working with our telecommunication providers and other organisations such as Cisco means that we will have those things nailed and we’ll be able to do a lot more in that space.
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As a CIO, how important is it to have a good working relationship with the CEO?
I’ve been very lucky in that the CEOs I’ve worked with have been very supportive of the investment in technology. Our IT staff are working with the newer technology and they can see the opportunities to deliver that improved customer experience just because of the technologies we have in place.
Our new CEO questions where the priorities should be and what needs to change every day. That’s great because it makes you try and reinvent yourself daily.
What are some of the challenges you face in the role of CIO?
The first challenge is managing demand. Because we have four properties, these all have top five priorities. We need to ensure we’re working on the right things that will make the biggest difference to our customers.
The other challenge is making sure that we as IT can be more agile about the work that we do. When the business asks for things, they really want it tomorrow so we need to continue to streamline our processes.
What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?
We’re all under pressure to be able to provide services for less cost. This is about process improvement, removing legacy equipment and doing consolidation.
Mobility is key for us and we’re unchaining the work force so people don’t need to sit behind a desk to do their work. By using tablets, our gaming staff can stand near a [gaming] table and have all the information that they need at hand.
What is your favourite gadget?
One of my favourite gadgets is video conferencing system Lync which we use throughout our properties. Being able to see the person’s face when you call them is just fantastic.
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