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Tabcorp turns to Poland for tech skills

Tabcorp turns to Poland for tech skills

Online is the new battleground for the gaming and wagering giant

Tabcorp's CIO, Kim Wenn: 'Secret sauce' is improving the digital experience for punters

Tabcorp's CIO, Kim Wenn: 'Secret sauce' is improving the digital experience for punters

One of Australia’s biggest technology users, Tabcorp, is using a development centre in Krakow, Poland to access application developers with skills needed by the multi-billion dollar organisation to build its digital capabilities.

Tabcorp has just signed a new agreement with Grand Parade – a London-based digital agency it has been working with since 2015 – to increase the amount of developers it uses from the firm's Poland office to around 50. These developers have a particular focus on wagering and software gaming, Kim Wenn, CIO at Tabcorp told CIO Australia.

Wenn said Krakow is a city with many young technology students. She cited figures from Grand Parade which suggested more than 50 per cent of young university students in Poland are studying STEM subjects.

The agreement with Grand Parade is one way the organisation is overcoming the STEM skills shortage in Australia, said Wenn, who also spends time talking to young women in Victorian schools about careers in technology.

“I personally spend a fair bit of my time attempting to educate young women [about careers in IT] because I think part of the skills shortage problem is [due to] the under-utilisation of women in technology," Wenn said.

"I spend a fair bit of time talking to girls at private schools in Victoria – trying to encourage them not to drop maths and educating them about what a career in technology might mean.”

Offshore workers add to Tabcorp's internal Sydney-based team of 140 staff, which were put in place in 2014 to focus specifically on digital software development.

Mobile applications – particularly those that run on iOS and Android devices – are the new battleground for Tabcorp, which is coming under competitive pressure from newer players in the sector, the likes of Bet365, Ladbrokes, and William Hill.

Betting on mobile devices currently makes up 65 per cent of Tabcorp's digital wagering turnover.

The ‘secret sauce’, as Wenn puts it, is improving the digital experience for users at Tabcorp’s 3,500 retail outlets in NSW and Victoria. Tabcorp is currently trialling beacon technology across 42 venues under a pilot initiative. This technology lets venues know when a customer has entered the premises.

This is particularly useful given that punters can only legally place live bets inside a venue in Australia, Wenn said. It is currently illegal in Australia to place a live bet online.

“So if a customer is standing outside the shop, they can’t place a bet; if they are standing inside, they can. So we will use beacon technology to ensure you are within the premises and we know what we can offer you in terms of products and services,” said Wenn.

“That’s where we are really focused right now. When a customer walks into a retail venue, we know who they are and we can give them a special promotion that our competitors won’t. For instance, we know you like chicken parmigiana and we will order it for you.

“We also use a lot of that data to work with our venue operators to help them grow their business as well,” said Wenn.

Meanwhile, Tabcorp recently signed an agreement with Telstra to create a purpose-built network that connects 137 racetracks across Australia to Sky Racing's headquarters in Frenchs Forest, NSW.

The partnership will provide viewers with the opportunity to view more than 100,000 races each year in high definition for the first time in Australian history.

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Tags skills shortageAndroidiosTabCorpKim WennSTEMPolandGrand Paradedigital software development

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