GE) Michael, you recently joined SportingTech as Chief Technology Officer, bringing with you a wealth of experience in the gambling software industry. Could you tell us about your vision and goals for the company in your new role? How do you plan to leverage your expertise to drive innovation and growth at SportingTech, and what excites you most about this opportunity?
MJ: My goal for this new role is to make sure the company is ahead of the curve for entering regulating and newly regulated markets. It is about ensuring we have the fundamentals right, and that starts with a rock-solid foundation.
Once the fundamentals of a scalable architecture are in place from a technology perspective, as well as the appropriate supporting functions and processes, that is when true innovating and setting yourself apart from the competition begins.
To do it the other way round, trying to sprint before you can crawl, is something I have witnessed others trying to do and they quickly learn it doesn’t work for the best. If you have the essentials in place, growth and innovation at pace become much easier and more straight forward.
Your journey as a CTO in the gambling software sector has undoubtedly been filled with unique challenges and opportunities. Can you share a particularly challenging project or situation you’ve encountered and how you and your team overcame it? What lessons did you learn from that experience that might benefit other technical and executive professionals in the industry?
I have worked on several modernisation projects during my career and one of the challenges I have encountered is finding that some people don’t deal well with huge amounts of ambiguity and large-scale challenges. It is important to be able to identify the people who are and aren’t comfortable with this, and those who prefer bite-sized problems.
My belief is that big problems are lots of little problems stuck together and it’s about identifying those people who can see a problem and know how to break it down into a collection of much smaller problems before tackling it. The beauty of technology is that there is seldom one way of solving a problem. It’s about taking the time to find a solution that works for the business and its people.
The integration of third-party solutions and partnerships can be a complex endeavour in the gambling industry. Could you provide insights into your experience and approach to managing these partnerships effectively, ensuring seamless integration, and maintaining a high level of quality and security in the final product?
It is as much about choosing the right partners as it is anything else – partnership is the key word. It’s a relationship that goes both ways. It is essential to conduct a healthy amount of due diligence up front to ensure that solutions and partnerships align to your own organisational philosophies and technological vision. This proactive approach can remove any misunderstanding at the start of your relationship and realising you’re not on the same page.
As a CTO, personal development and staying ahead of technology trends are crucial. What strategies do you employ to ensure you and your team are continuously adapting to new technologies and industry developments, and how do you foster a culture of innovation within your organisation?
Communicating with likeminded individuals is key to fostering a culture of innovation and staying up to date with the latest technological trends
Networking with your peers, colleagues, or friends that you have made through your experiences in the industry is crucial. You will always learn something new from speaking to a group of tech specialists and you can then go and use that information to direct and drive your own research. Carving out time to do this is vital as it doesn’t happen naturally.
In terms of fostering a culture of innovation, it is important to have a company culture where everyone is free to speak up on different things. It’s about having a lightweight process for technology adoption and everyone following that process, whether they are senior architects with 15 years’ experience or a graduate engineer with six months’ experience.
Having everyone on a level playing field can do wonders for advancement and innovation. At SportingTech, I want to avoid a two-tiered hierarchy. Everyone has good ideas on something and by having this culture, you don’t tend to hear from the more junior people. They might be the people who’ve got a wealth of time and are dedicated to research. What they’ve got to say is as relevant as the more experienced senior members of staff.