Online gambling has been a growth sector and has largely weathered the downturn. Betfair stands out amongst its rivals for its exchange ethos that enables gamblers to bet in game and against each other rather than against the betting book of the operator. Betfair has more in common with eBay than more traditional sports betting operators and as a result is a technology company.

Tony McAlister became CTO in January 2009. Revamping Betfair Research was one of the first tasks McAlister set about on his return to Great Britain to take the CTO role at the company. Originally called the Advanced Technology Group, McAlister felt a simple renaming would focus the department on the brand it represented and its basic role – research and development. McAlister has also introduced a graduate recruitment scheme as part of his expansion.

As well increasing R&D, McAlister was tasked upon his arrival with an infrastructure overhaul. Performance 2010, as the project was dubbed in prepar¬ation for that year’s World Cup, was a major test of Betfair and saved £50,000.

The CIO 100 panel felt that McAlister and Betfair were clearly following the right course. A strong focus on R&D and recruiting the next generation of graduate IT workers impressed and the continual investment in IT during the downturn showed the panel that McAlister has board level influence at Betfair.

All agreed that technology transformation is always easier to lead and to convince of the benefits in a technology based company, but the speed, regulatory and marketplace strategy impressed.

Read the CIO interview:

Betfair CTO Tony McAlister puts bets on R&D