\u201cWhen I first started working at Sportsbet, I wasn\u2019t sure what to expect,\u201d says CIO Simon Noonan.\n\u201cI remember telling my colleagues that the grass wouldn\u2019t be greener, I just needed different grass. But I quickly learned that the role had significant impact and I was able to make a difference from day one \u2013 the grass was greener,\u201d he says.\nSince joining the betting organisation in September 2014, Noonan had to change the perception of technology and make a case for significant investment. The tech group was viewed as one focused on IT operations and infrastructure, rather than a department that was critical to the customer and the success of the business.\n\u201cI knew that we needed the right environment and the right talent to succeed, a culture where people felt like they could grow, make a difference and enjoy work.\u201d\nNoonan can safely say that the technology department at Sportsbet is a very different place, the team has expanded from 100 to 300 staff, which is in line with company growth.\n\u201cOver the past three years we\u2019ve progressively lifted the bar, matured our practices and platforms, hired the right talent and I can now say we are no longer an IT operations department \u2013 we are recognised as being one off the best digital software engineering companies in Australia,\u201d he says.\n\u201cBut we have greater ambitions still; we want to create the platforms of the future, we want to create the best customer experience and we will continue to evolve the way we get stuff done and we will use the right tools.\u201d\nSportsbet is now turning over more than $5.6 billion per year with its technology platforms support of over 1 million active customers and 1.1 billion price updates \u2013 making the organisation the number one online bookmaker in Australia.\nSeveral innovations have driven this growth. Sportsbet recently delivered a new Android online betting platform \u2013 in addition to an Apple iOS app already on the market \u2013 using Google\u2019s Material Design principles to create an intuitive experience for users.\nNoonan and his team also adopted an agile delivery model which enabled the organisation to release the product to market quickly. This approach ensured that the team could collect insights and feedback from customers, allowing them to learn, iterate, adapt and prioritise which features to release next, Noonan says.\nUsing this model, the IT team provided a more flexible user experience which enabled marketing and products teams to change the customer experience in real time without a new version of the app. Thousands of tests have been automated, covering 99 per cent of the core user journeys, including security and performance tests.\n\u201cWe have seamlessly migrated 100 per cent of our Android base to the new platform. The feedback from our customers has been extremely positive and has resulted in an uplift of customers over 10 per cent,\u201d says Noonan.\nPersonalising customer interactions\nOver the past 12 months, Sportsbet has invested in making sure its customers are interacting with content that is relevant to them.\n\u201cTo achieve this, I have led a team to introduce a customer data platform, models and predictive algorithms (machine learning) to ensure we are learning from our customers and adapting user experience accordingly. We also do massive amounts of qualitative and quantitative research with our customers such as through casual catch ups over drinks and online diaries,\u201d says Noonan.\nSportsbet has also held three \u2018hack days\u2019 over the past year which brought together more than 200 people. These events focused on process and backend improvement in addition to innovations in the organisation\u2019s end product and customer experience such as \u2018pick your own line\u2019 and \u2018share-a-bet.\u2019\n\u201cAfter Hack Day, we encouraged continuous experimentation and as a result one of the hack teams established \u2018Voice Club\u2019 at Sportsbet to explore the possibilities of voice and how customers can interact with us,\u201d he says.\nNoonan says he has pushed his team to constantly improve Sportsbet\u2019s product offering, creating the best customer experience, automating where possible and using predictive analytics to stay one step ahead.\n\u201cOur product is essentially made from a significant amount of data and we consume billions of data updates a year. Sportsbet has been right at the forefront of this kind of innovation in Australia for the past decade, in particular our use of models to inform decision-making processes and product innovations.\n\u201cOver the past year I have worked closely with our general managers of analytics and product to ensure we are learning from data to support our drive to personalise customer experience.\u201d\nSince 2015, Noonan and his team have also improved product delivery output by 30 per cent.\n\u201cBy improving our agile delivery practices we\u2019ve shifted from delivering seven releases a year to over 25 releases a year with hundreds of features which can be toggled on and off and are tested with a group of our customers,\u201d he says.\nA safe learning environment\nNoonan says one of the most integral cultural changes he has initiated at Sportsbet is creating a learning environment \u2013 called \u2018The Academy\u2019 \u2013 which enables its tech team to deliver in an agile way while giving them space to make some mistakes.\nThis change has led to significant improvements in the quality of products as well as the number of new features being delivered to the customer.\n\u201cOur teams now have shared goals, ownership, reduced feedback loops, less handoffs, long-lived delivery teams, and a reduction in context switching. By moving away from working in silos we\u2019ve been able to inspire a culture of growth and innovation, as well as building solid relationships between team members.\u201d\nMore than 70 per cent of Sportbet\u2019s staff are \u2018millennials\u2019 which has also forced Noonan to switch his leadership style.\n\u201cWe hold regular fortnightly team-wide catchups where I share business updates and the team share their successes in an informal environment. Our teams gather to discuss high level business objectives, emerging tech trends, showcase their work, recognise people through the Tech All-Stars program, and check on our growth and progress on a regular basis,\u201d Noonan says.