Integral to the successful planning, the implementation, and launch of Bitcoin as a payment option on Green Man Gaming, CIO Chily Fachler has laid the key groundwork for the company's move into China and Russia. The positive impact on the company's distribution and take-up in these regions and beyond has been huge. When did you start your current role as CIO of Green Man Gaming?August 2014. What is your reporting line?I report directly to the CEO. Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?Yes, on a weekly basis minimum. Are you a member of the board of directors?No. What other executive boards do you sit on?None. Does your organisation have a CDO?No. What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?I’m involved in all elements of the digital proposition and leading the digital transformation for the company, which comes with both technological and non-technological responsibilities. For example, I'm a full and active member of the executive management team, which meets weekly to agree the strategy and activities of the business as a whole. How many employees does your organisation have?55. Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?Yes. How many users does your department supply services to?55. How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?I make sure I keep up to date and have a good understanding of every aspect of the business by sharing and digesting weekly reports across all departments (corporate, operations, commercial including trading, marketing, social media, PR, etc), by attending weekly meetings between all key executive staff, and by engaging with customers, peers, press and competitors at conferences, networking and training events, in order to gauge wider knowledge of our products, opinion, sentiment, and usage. Green Man Gaming technology strategy and agenda Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology-oriented start-ups?Yes. Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside?Yes. Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part inI was integral to the successful planning, the implementation, and the launch of Bitcoin (BTC) as a payment option on Green Man Gaming, which has been pioneering and disruptive within the video games industry as the vast majority of games retailers are yet to adopt the currency. It was also significant for our business to lead and set an example for all digital product e-commerce retailers across the UK, potentially helping to change the perception and value of the currency. What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?Working closely with the executive VP operations, one important project I recently completed was the introduction of payment options and hence the ability to actively sell into the Chinese and Russian markets. This opens up a huge new market for us, especially in an industry with significant differences to the regional proposition. My main transformation project under way now is the delivery of a world-class web platform to run both Green Man Gaming (our digital store) and Playfire (our in-game tracking social network), due for completion in June this year. This will take our social commerce customer offering in 186 territories around the world to a whole new level. This project includes the introduction of e-commerce best practice, and the launch of responsive and mobile websites, as well as web personalisation to improve our already strong conversion rates, especially for our customers using mobile devices. What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?The introduction of Bitcoin payments and the move into China and Russia has already had a hugely positive impact on the company's distribution and take-up in these regions and beyond. The platform migration will impact every facet of the business. The results will be improved customer engagement across the board, especially on mobile devices. The ability to be more agile and introduce technologies at a faster pace in a more robust fashion will enable us not only to react to an ever changing competitive environment, but to lead and stay ahead of our competitors. We will also be able to hand more power to website traders and marketers, easing the process of bringing products to market, and thus offering customers even more unique and compelling offerings that are not currently possible or feasible on our current platforms. As a data-driven business, this transformation will also improve our ability to gain deeper customer insight and business intelligence. How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?While there had been initial negotiations and thoughts about the project, there was no clear ownership or leadership before I joined. I believe that my style has brought clarity, focus, strategy and an achievable plan of activity that will see this project completed. A combination of my previous experience of leading large-scale e-commerce transformations and my passion within this area or work has been welcomed and supported within the team. I’m proud that my ability to influence at the right levels has pushed this project from concept to reality. Since I became CIO, the project has been signed off, the platform vendor selected, the requirements agreed, and we are now in the build phase, which is extremely satisfying both professionally and personally. What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?Within digital transformation there has to be a feature-rich, agile and powerful e-commerce platform with strong CRM capabilities. The strength of the back-end applications and services combined with open and intuitive APIs creating a simple yet powerful middle layer, enterprise service bus or similar, is vital to enable the flexibility and agility required to transform a business into one able both to push forward and react to ever changing market forces and requirements. Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation?Yes. What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?We have a major project under way to improve our data analytics both before and after the transformation project is complete. I have recently helped launch a BI tool, GoodData, which is being improved exponentially week by week. We have a huge amount of data coming through from Playfire that doesn’t just look at purchase or browsing history, but digs down to the level of individual gamers’ gaming activity, and my vision is to continue building significant big data capability using Elastic Search. In addition I have led on the implementation of Tealium tag management, which, along with many other benefits, will help us improve our web analytics and ability to interrogate clickstream data. How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?Hugely! We have a very large social network across many channels, as engaging socially with customers is now vitally important to any e-commerce retailer like Green Man Gaming, where relationships with customers are built solely online. Our focus is on creating a good customer experience, which we manage by creating a loyal community. Knowing how to communicate with our customers at those points where they live their lives online – talking in their language, and the language of whichever medium they choose to use, then giving them reasons to keep engaging with us – is integral to our success and is why our current transformation project to improve and enhance this experience, especially on mobile, is so critical. Our Playfire service is where we heavily engage with our audience, which we actively add strength to through Twitter, Facebook and newsletters. Playfire helps connect people together, regardless of taste or preference in the type of media they prefer. It's not only about tracking in-game activity, our community of users compare, discuss and share games, compile want lists, vote and take part in game night sessions, and earn rewards (GMG Credit which can be used on anything on the Green Man Gaming store) through playing games, which is a unique proposition within this industry. We also encourage the community to constantly help us improve the service, based on their needs and ideas. We’ve even had members of the community who have made such incredible suggestions we’ve employed them! The research and the power of the data we collect (including opinion about product launches, and sentiment towards the business) from our social network helps to drive our digital strategies and directly impacts operations, which is vital to the business. Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?We have a very tech-savvy user base. We employ cloud technologies including the full Google suite, and actively encourage our users to use their own devices, within an environment of trust. We have strict security protocols and regulations, but the give and take with our users means that they reward our openness and encouragement with adherence to our rules. Shadow IT is not a major issue due to the size of the organisation as well as the flexibility we offer as a department. In some areas we actively encourage a direct relationship between non-IT departments and the vendors, such as with email marketing and tag management, but we keep an overall view and involvement to ensure there is no clash with the core systems that we provide and maintain. What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?We have done a deal with EpiServer to provide our CMS and e-commerce platform for the next five years and possibly beyond. Who are your main suppliers?AWS, Google, EpiServer, GoodData, Cloudant, Neolane. Green Man Gaming IT security and budget Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?Yes. Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?No. Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces?Yes. Has this led to an increase in your security budget?Yes. How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?5%. What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?To successfully complete the transformation project and launch the new GMG and Playfire websites. Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?No. Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?Yes. Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?No. Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?No. Green Man Gaming technology department How would you describe your leadership style?Determined and focused, yet collegiate and empowering. Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and visionIn a word, communication! I have ensured that both my objectives and my strategic vision have been clearly articulated at all levels, starting with my senior managers and my department. I continually aim to empowered my senior managers to run their areas in the way that most suits their style and abilities, while ensuring buy-in to the core-strategy. How many employees are in your IT team?18. What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?80% in-house. Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?Yes.