Online gambling giant Betfair's top techie gave an interesting interview to Silicon.com this week, revealing a shift in technology strategy to what he referred to as "jurisdictional architecture."
Tony McAlister joined Betfair as CTO in January this year and told the computer tech magazine that he and his 400 technical staff are embarking on a radical overhaul of the company's development processes to allow it to move faster on new international business opportunities.
McAlister said that Betfair ethical and legal approach to business held strong appeal for him: "We are turning down tremendous amounts of revenue by not running our poker products in the US," he told the interviewer.
Instead of focusing all its energies on its core exchange gambling platform, Betfair is moving towards a more modular approach over the next 24 to 36 months, McAlister revealed. The aim is to enter new markets faster, delivering only those online gambling products legally permitted in a particular region.
"We are calling it a jurisdictional architecture – to be able to deliver [betting products] where they are legal but only the pieces that are legal," he said. "In one country we can do poker but not horse racing and in another country casinos but not poker. We have to deal with jurisdictional nuances but also how quickly the walls will fall. I don't know which countries are going to open up next," McAlister said.
"We are moving to a more agile methodology because we are looking at building smaller components and integrating them," he added.
The technical executive also touched on the suject of outsourcing, pointing out that the technology strategy being adopted reduces the need to build every element in a particular offering. This also means less of an emphasis on building every part of the offering.
"I don't have to build them, I can buy them, but I want to plug them into my infrastructure very easily. Roulette is roulette: I don't need to build that," he said.
Betfair is very serious about the new approach, and apparently McAlister has a budget to match. "I might be one of the only CTOs in the city that has an increased budget this year," he said. "In this environment that's a nice place to be, and a great opportunity to get really great talent."
As well as hiring in the UK, McAlister is looking to build up the Betfair IT team outside of the UK.
"I'm looking to build up technical teams in the United States because the skillsets are sitting on the West Coast in the US. There are certain skills that are better developed there and we want to leave them there," he said. Similarly McAlister is looking at increasing Betfair's mobile skills by hiring developers in Asia.
The new initiatives do not mean that Betfair is taking it's eye of the current business ball; with next year's World Cup looming, the company and its IT team is already preparing for the event by building capacity. By early 2010, Betfair will stop making changes to its core exchange system to ensure there are no alterations that could accidently cause problems during the betting.
Betfair has a significant presence in US horseracing following its acquisition of TVG, and has a very active presence in Australia in addition to its European operations and worldwide betting exchange operations..