Play.com is an online marketplace which started out in 1998 as a retailer specialising in selling CDs, DVDs, book, gadgets and video games. Play.com was bought by Japan-based Rakuten in 2011 for £25 million.

However, since its popularity has grown, the site has expanded its departments and now sells clothes, sports equipment, baby toys and mobile phones.

The company has also expanded its business to include a section on its site called PlayTrade, whereby third party sellers can operate through the website and pay a percentage fee to the site. Play.com has also launched their own Visa debit card whereby customers can acquire ‘play points’ for any purchase they make using the card, which can then be redeemed on Play.com.

When did you start your current role?
January 2011

Have you completed an MBA?
No

Order the following sources of advice/information by value to you:
1. Peer group
2. In-house
3. Consultant
4. Analyst
5. Vendors

Technology strategy and spending

What is the major transformational IT project that has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
As Rakuten now has an European HQ in Luxembourg we started the migration of Single Platform and Unified IT Services to achieve efficiency, cost reduction and synergies between the different European Rakuten companies. This is a massive project that involved 7 companies across EU and 300 FTE that will later been reduced to 100-150.

What impact will it/does it have on the organisation?
A Centralised Service Oriented Companies with a service provided from one central place and offer to all the other EU entities. To achieve this we have to migrate all the platform to a common one using a SOA approach in a way of using multi language platform

What new strategic technology deals has your organisation struck and with whom?
We are enriching the Customer Experience adopting external platform. We are planning to use Ampliance

Name your strategic technology suppliers?
Ampliance

What is the IT budget?
More than £10 million

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
Platform Unification and Efficiency in Resources and Cost

Transformation achievements

Would you describe the CIO role as a transformation leader in your organisation?
The CIO is the enabler and the evangelist of the Transformation Projects. The CEO and CFO are thinking from numbers and Profit and Lost and EBIDA but how to achieve a positive trend is left to the CIO that has to come forward with a proper Transformation Plan to the BOD.

Describe the transformations you have led / been involved in, how did they transform operations, customer experience or the organisation?
The Global Platform Project we are currently running will allow a customer to buy a product from all European Merchants as well going seamlessly is any country and purchase a product using your local account. Merchants on the same side will be able  to sell anywhere in EU managing Product and Availability from one account.

In the Past we have migrated the platform to an SOA architecture achieving an high reuse of the Business Logic and exposing the Data to the Customers

Beyond technology, can you describe a business transformation programme that you own or contribute to?
The Global Platform Migration mentioned above

What key technologies are being considered to enable transformation?
SOA Architecture to be able to be Platform Indipendent

What percentage of your applications / infrastructure is run from the Cloud?
100%

How is the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and social networking impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation at present?
As Company Policy we don't support the employees technology and mobile but they are allow to be used on a separate network. In this way they can integrate their devices with the company one and be able to work anywhere they want. Social is critical and is enable in all network and we stimulate the employees to use it for a proper social experiance and provide feedback into the company projects

Do you have a plan in place for how to deal with shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives, place the right controls around employee choice and engage with the organisation on this issue?
Not at this moment

Where do you seek transformational inspiration from?
Peers

The CIO role in the business

Who do you report to?
CEO

Do you have a seat on the board?
Yes

How often do you meet with the CEO?
Weekly

Does your organisation have a digital leader and what is the difference in their responsibilities to yours?
No

What percentage of IT budget do you control and what percentage of IT budget does your digital peer hold?
100% controlled by me the CIO

The IT department

How many staff make up the IT team?(What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff)
70

Describe the CIO’s management team, do you have direct reports that develop the relationship and services between the business and IT?
Yes I have one that is responsible for the IT services, one for the Release and Delivery and one for Products

And how many log-in accounts do you issue across you organisation?
150

What is the primary technology platform? ( for example ERP, Website, trading system)
Ecommerce Platform, Search Platform