It is one of the hottest companies in the world, and it may have single-handedly created the mobile gaming industry with its wildly popular Angry Birds franchise. But with new offerings and even an Angry Birds theme park, Rovio is now more than just an app. It needs the same capability, flexibility, and innovation as any other hot technology company.
That's why we sat down with Kalle Alppi, IT director at Rovio, who was kind enough to answer questions about the IT department of one of the world's fastest growing companies. Some of Alppi's specialities include building efficiency with technology, IT management, corporate management teams, infrastructure migration projects, and managing change. As you can see, those apply whether you're selling a game about pigs on shaky architecture or selling widgets in a global market.
Enterprise Efficiency: How do you ensure that IT plans and objectives are aligned with the management's business goals?
Kalle Alppi: At Rovio, the business culture is very informal, which makes communication efficient. Most managers are still in one building, and both formal and informal weekly discussions [are] possible. In most companies that do global business, the management is [spread] around, and communication is a bit more complicated. Rapid growth and new business areas also bring many adjustments to IT priorities, and this requires good dialogue with management.
Enterprise Efficiency: Security is always a hot topic in the enterprise. What are the most challenging issues at Rovio concerning security?
Alppi: Security plays an important role in our business. Managing radical employee growth and promoting security awareness in the company is very important.
Enterprise Efficiency: What do you think is the best strategy for technical support -- in-house, outsourced, or a combination of both?
Alppi: Nowadays you can buy many infrastructure and application services from third parties. I believe good in-house support and a flexible local IT service are the key areas where IT can drive productivity. Giving users freedom to choose their own tools requires the support to be in very close contact with both hiring managers and employees. When you choose not to standardize on one or two allowed operating systems for company devices, you need more IT support resources to deliver the service. Over half of our internal IT resources are used to provide top-quality customer service to our employees.
Enterprise Efficiency: Do you believe it is better for an organization to maintain its own server hosting facilities, or is it better to have these outsourced?
Alppi: I have experience [with] both alternatives and prefer to outsource server hosting facilities. By outsourcing [your] 24/7 ops team and server hosting, you can focus on application-level challenges and give good customer services to employees. Also, our own organization is smaller and much more flexible. In rapidly developing companies, flexibility is a vital success factor.
Enterprise Efficiency: What is your idea of a good disaster recovery plan? How often do you think these plans should be updated?
Alppi: Information systems containing critical information should have a separate disaster recovery plan. The plan should be always updated when a major update is done to the system, and when doing yearly review. Systems that are not business critical don't necessarily need a separate DR plan but should be covered by the datacenter DR plan and the generic backup/restore process.
Enterprise Efficiency: And finally, the cloud. I know Rovio has adopted the cloud. What would be your advice in terms of cloud deployment?
Alppi: Choosing the right cloud partners for your organization and making a contract that meets your business and information security requirements is very important. The cloud model itself is not more or less secure than in-house/hosted solutions. It's the implementation what matters.
After the interview, Alppi suggested a little gift for the E2 community. Introducing the just released member of the Angry Birds family, the Pink Bird.
Re: Update: Peter Vesterbacka talks about IPO, Rovio, and the Angry Birds new empire
Glad you liked it. The conference was very intense. I learned about many, many new and cool things coming up soon from Jolla, Nokia & Microsoft, Holvi, and some good interviews. Evernote is also coming up, with interview with Paul Libin and everything. I will be sharing all this in blog form. :) Stay tuned!
They are not the kind of people you describe in the second option, and that is not the case of the company anyway. The company is holding a very strong position, they are constantly growing, they have partnerships that are very promising, the company has established itself in different markets not only in gaming.
The Angry Birds' theme parks might quickly expand to the rest of the world. Rovio is connecting the virtual world of the games with the reality of the parks for kids, which is nice to keep a balance, right?
I pretty much agree with all your comments. Like you, I also believe that Rovio is one of the most qualified companies in the world to speak about fast-growing companies, and how to keep the success up and running.
Bad Piggies, Rovio's newest game, and newest franchise, too, was officially announced today, and it's launching on September 27. It will be available for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows phone, Windows 8, and PC. The bouncing Bad Piggies will cost $0.99 on mobile.
Now all the Pigs' empathetic followers can play as the Pigs themselves. According to some Angry Birds' players, after a certain amount of time that they kill piggs they start developing an empathetic feeling. Will Bad Piggies be act as an empathy balancing regulator among the players? I find this interesting for a study. :)
By the way, have you seen the Bad Piggies' egg recipes? It seems to be great for kids. Remember to add some lettuce and veggies in the mix, as some recipes advice. :D
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