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Customer Focus is the First Priority

By Jennifer Rademacher, CIO, Fathead

Jennifer Rademacher, CIO, Fathead

Being a technology leader at one of the nation’s leading brands has definitely allowed me to see just how important IT is in the current ecommerce space. If one thing can be said about technology is that, it is consistently evolving and changing the space in which we do business. Instead of focusing solely on keeping systems up and running, we are more focused on our customer and their experience with the Fathead brand across multiple devices, bandwidths and screen resolutions. It’s customer focus that has kept us ahead of the curve. We live and breathe by; every client, every time, no exceptions, no excuses.

The ‘customer’ means different things depending on the end user. At Fathead, we have multiple platforms we work with, from CRM and lead gen systems that our sales team use, to the B2C customer on fathead. com through fulfillment. Each of these systems are the foundation of our business. As a cohesive tech team, we make sure that our customer has the best experience with each system every time they use it. We are also very focused on the right solution. Being a mid-tier business but nationally recognized brand, we are still very focused on ROI. That being said, the cheapest is not necessarily the best. We utilize a combination of open source platforms as well as some best in class solutions in concert. This combination allows Fathead the necessary scalability for future growth. Again, this customer-driven focus makes decisions much more clear since the business success is so heavily dependent on technology.

Our core operations clearly illustrate how the combination of cloud and on-premise solutions can work in sync to achieve that scalability. We have a talented team of engineers in-house that have written and are responsible for the main ecommerce platform that is Fathead.com. We are also in the midst of re-writing our entire CMS platform as well. The value of having these two systems developed and supported in-house is monumental when it comes to the speed in which we shift gears. These tools allow for our marketing and content teams to have free reign on the content the customer sees at a moment’s notice.They can change the products that are on SEO landing pages, how our search performs, and update our home page with who won the big game in real-time. These are all extremely important in the ever-changing world of sports and entertainment licenses, of which we maintain 650+.

We also utilize some 3rd party platforms for goals that are outside of our core business. Yottaa is a next-gen CDN that helps with content delivery along with the optimization of HTML, depending on the customer’s device. We have seen tremendous gains in our performance but also some high ROI gains. When it comes to solutions that deliver RPV and conversion lift while providing enormous customer gains it makes the decision to partner a complete no-brainer. Yottaa has been one of those game-changing partners for Fathead.

Implementation with 3rd parties can also bring some risk to your business. When you are relying on others to provide a service uptime is a concern. We plan extremely well leading up to the holiday season. Wemake sure that uptime is consistently monitored and that we have as much visibility into the performance of those solutions as possible. We utilize external monitoring tools along with an internal team that helps to monitor 24/7. With monitoring and alerting locked down, there needs to be a clear escalation procedure in place to identify next steps. With a few of our core 3rd party services we develop backup solutions. For example, if our onsite search goes down this would pose some challenges for our .com customers. So we have a backup open-source solution for search if the need arises. These types of standbys for core functionality is key for success.

Monitoring and backup solutions are only a piece of the puzzle. We also understand that proactive monitoring around trends is important to catch a problem before it arises. We keep careful track of logs and errors to spot developments before they occur. We also utilize load testing of new features and are in the process of planning out load tests for our new release of Fathead.com at the end of October.

Even with all the IT at our disposal, it is really our people that are the most important asset. The Fathead team is made up of some brilliant team members who have a passion for what they do. They bridge the balance between short-term and long-term goals and functionality. As a team we have an internal set of principles we focus on, one of them being “make happiness happen”. The team centers themselves on customer focus and delivering the experience for our clients that they would want to have. I consider myself very lucky to work with such inspired people every single day. They inspire me. If I were to offer any advice to other CIOs, I would definitely be focusing on and serving your people and your team.

There will always be more that you want to accomplish than there are hours in the day. Prioritization of those items is what we all need to do to help push the business along. Keeping the customer experience front of mind will always make those decisions easier. Remember every client, every time, no exceptions, no excuses.

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