Encore Tickets is based in Holborn, London and are one of the major providers of theatre and tourist attraction tickets to both direct consumers as well as third-party organisations. In addition to covering the UK theatre market, Encore also provides tickets for New York theatres and attractions. Encore tickets is a business-focused ticket provider that distributes and organised theatre and attraction bookings on a large scale for clients such as airlines and group organisers. The company also provides online ecommerce solutions for its client’s websites such as white label and Xml solutions.
Encore also operates in partnership with affiliated sites that provide tickets to individuals. The launch of the company’s direct to consumer site theatrepeople.com has expanded their individual ticket selling area of the business and now makes up around 10% of the company’s revenue. Currently the company sells around one in every five theatre tickets sold in the UK.
Encore tickets sells around 1.5 million theatre tickets every year.
The CIO of Encore tickets, Chily Fachler has reshaped the IT structure of the company and helped support the digital strategy. Previously he has worked at Black Leisure Group as group IT director, covering the Blacks and Millets chains.
IT leader: Chily Fachler, CIO.
In role since: May 2011.
Reporting line: CEO.
How often does the CIO with the CEO: Twice a month on a formal one to one otherwise regularly in meetings, catch-ups etc.
Board level seat: Yes both on the executive with senior management and on the company board together with the non-executive directors and private equity backers.
IT budget: Circa £1.8 million, 2% of company revenue.
IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: 165.
Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 100%.
IT staff currently employed: 21.
Split between in-house/outsourced staff: About 5% are contract.
IT management team and reporting structure: Three direct reports: the Director of Architecture and technology, the Director of Digital Program and the Senior Technical Architect.
Primary technology platforms at the organisation: Proprietary VMS-based ERP system called Thebs, and Drupal web platform for the front ends.
Primary technology suppliers: Maindec, JFA and HP.
Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: Two major system migrations: full upgrade of server infrastructure to Itanium from HP, rebuild of front back end platform, relaunch of both online brands and migration of 400+ affiliate websites to in-house built Drupal platform.
Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: 20%.
Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: The launch of TheatrePeople.com on the Drupal platform in September 11, 2012, which provides a vastly-enhanced user experience to our customers, already accounts for 10% of company revenue, and is the fastest growing theatre website in the UK. The platform it was built against has been utilised to migrate all the B2B and B2B2C websites, which power approximately 60% of Encores business. In addition we completed the rollout of QlikView BI across the organisation which has dramatically improved access to information across the business including finance, sales and commercial functions.
Did the above project reach its cost, timing and transformation objective: Both projects were delivered on time and within budget. Both have had a transformational impact on the business.
Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: The whole multichannel piece, is something I have been working alongside the marketing director to achieve.
Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: To land the two major transformational projects including the full back-end upgrade and web platform migration, and to introduce mobile in a big way to our customers.
Strategy in the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and how social networking is impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation: All our sites are now actively promoting our social networking tools such as our Facebook page. Our employees regularly access and blog on these sites. When testing new sites and mobile sites in particular, employees are recruited to utilise their own phones/tablets etc. to do so. Another good example was our ‘Pass on the football - Catch a show instead’ video campaign using YouTube which received thousands of hits following employees recommendations, tweets, Facebook updates etc.
Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: In our environment there is very little risk of shadow IT, however BYOD is very relevant. The first way that we deal with it is by being extremely responsive and maintain regular and positive dialogue with the rest of the business. The business should never be incentivised to engage in shadow IT when they perceive a flexible and effective IT department working on their behalf. The fact that we deal directly with customers means that we are a PCI compliant company with a significant security profile. Directors and managers are regularly engaged to maintain our security credentials and make sure that nothing compromises this. Own devices are catered for as much as possible. The department connects personal phones and tablets to our exchange servers to receive and send company email, and we have various secure routes into our network to allow own devices in once this has been verified by our security officer. In short we are as flexible as possible to allow the business users to utilise technologies that will benefit them and the company, but we draw a red line wherever this will either compromise security or make it difficult for us to carry out our duties to maximise the support we provide to the business.
Technologies being considered to enable transformation: Among other technologies, we are looking at making more use of the cloud. We hope to be launching a mobile application later this year.
Transformational inspiration sources: Predominantly from conducting internal workshops and think tanks and keeping an ever watchful eye on the industry and competitor landscape. I am also often inspired through my own use of technology, digital tools and what I feel would make my job or my life easier and better, and finally through accessing external sites and publications.