The industry’s relationship with new technology and its impact on consumer trends and behaviour will be a key point of discussion at this week’s EIG 2016 Conference (Arena Berlin 18-20 October).
Amitabh Ghatak former William Hill Head of Product Development details to SBC how operators and industry stakeholders should assess and value new technologies entering the industry’s value chain.
SBC: Hi Amitabh, you will be speaking at EIG Berlin on new technology impacts, Why should industry stakeholders be concerned by this subject matter?
Amitabh Ghatak: All industries across the world are either leveraging technology to gain a competitive edge or are worried about the next startup that could potentially disrupt an industry entirely.
In gaming industry itself, you only have to look back to 2012 – the point at which mobile became the dominant emerging channel. It was such a seismic shift and companies that didn’t have a mobile-first approach got left behind fairly quickly.
SBC: In your opinion are igaming and betting industry stakeholders good at embracing new technologies? What can be done to have a more innovative marketplace?
AG: We need to recognise that we are not tech companies – although some companies are making genuine efforts to be one. Till the time we have the desire and the tech platform to be “Innovators”, I don’t see anything wrong in being the “Early Majority.”
That said, as a technology enthusiast, Im genuinely surprised by how little progress we’ve made on the gaming side. Are our slots particularly different from what they were in 70’s? Yes, the device has changed, but with such amazing (non-gambling) games coming to mobile devices, the current suite looks a little dated. Even if you look at the social casino world, they are quite ahead in terms of an “entertaining experience” compared to RMG.
SBC: Assessing current consumer trends and habits, what technology do you feel will lead to the next industry ‘paradigm shift’?
AG: Almost certainly VR/AR. You only have to look at Mark Zuckerberg’s Oculus Connect talk to understand where the future is. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others are pumping in money by the billions in order to nail this. Pokemon Go has paved the way for people to think of AR as a genuine revenue generating opportunity. Augmented Reality has always been one of those technologies that was looking for a purpose, and I think its finally come of age.
SBC: With regards to new technology impacts, which outside industries should igaming and online betting stakeholder look to learn from?
AG: There are several similarities between the world financial trading and sports betting (market makers vs book makers, trading, high transaction volumes, joy and pain of playing). Hedge funds now trade algorithmically in private pools with transaction times in milliseconds. They’ve even physically moved offices to be closer their data centres to save on transaction time. Of course this is a bit excessive (for now) but you can see how they maximise the use of tech.
On the consumer side, the sports and gaming sites are modelled around an e-commerce experience (add-to-cart & checkout), although i think the large sites are still not very impressive – look to the niche e-commerce apps to get inspiration. l also see a blend of content and commerce becoming more relevant.
SBC: As new technologies enter the market what industry legacy values do you feel will be tested or ultimately made redundant?
AG: Retail is a steady ship but with a changing demographic, its getting harder to stay profitable. Certainly, there needs to be a pivot within retail towards a different profile – and that could be tech-driven, or could even be a partnership with another established chain.
There’s also a greater set of options for the customer’s wallet, gaming is just one of the many. There would have to be a shift towards making the propositions more entertaining and intertwined with content as well as real-world (not just digital) opportunities to enhance the ride.
SBC: Finally…what do you want EIG delegates to take away from your speaker session on new technology impacts?
AG: One, there’s nothing wrong in being the “Early Majority.”, just be in a place to understand where the trends are outside the industry. Two, set yourself up for doing innovation, but always tie it to your core proposition – don’t try moonshots. and finally, partner with a company who specialises in the type of innovation you’re looking to experiment in. This is also not for the faint hearted, it requires time, effort and iterations.