Jacob Curciel is the CEO of OPTIMA, Platinum Sponsors of Betting on Football Conference (BOFCON). Here he explains what sets his firm apart from other suppliers in the space:
SBC: You scored a goal in 2014 when you secured the rights to the MarginMaker product from GTECH. How important has that been to your business?
JC: It was simply a key milestone for OPTIMA’s business development strategy. Our vision of the Sports Betting market is that bookmakers require full control of their platform, be that their product roadmap, the privacy of their data, decision on which and how many content suppliers and gaming suppliers to use, full control of the promotions and data analysis. In the end, we want to give them full control of their business through OPTIMA’s technology.
We don’t outsource any software development or operations management and the sports betting and e-gaming platform software we offer is developed in house end to end. This is why we needed the rights to change and improve the MM2 system, which we have done relentlessly from the moment we started commercialising MM2 as an integral part of our Multichannel Gaming Suite.
We at OPTIMA think that differentiation is no longer viewed in terms of the odds prices but making sure prices are right and fair. It is not the amount of content offered, but the quality. Product development roadmap control and the decision to set the pace of the business development is key. Freedom to select content, gaming and other services from a huge list of partners, and if there is anyone still not integrated in our platform, we would be very happy to increase the list.
The OPTIMA business model starts with a renowned platform which achieves the highest standard in the market. Then we hand over full control to the bookmaker, who is able to customise 100% of the platform and develop the business at its own pace, have in house teams to manage the operation or outsource the different services required to manage a Retail or Online sports betting and gaming system. Or both. The choice is theirs.
The OPTIMA commercial model is adaptable and flexible depending on the business model and the channel but we don’t do revenue share deals. The main reason for this decision is that even though we are specialists in both technology and business for the sports betting and gaming industry, OPTIMA is not a gambling operator.
We maintain that OPTIMA is a Sports betting and Gaming Technology developer and supplier and, as such, we must remain independent and out of the business operations for many different reasons, the main ones being: transparency, independency and the trust we owe to our customers and partners.
For those companies looking for a white label solution, we have a certified partner network of operators who run their own individual OPTIMA MGS system, and are able to offer amazing and very cost effective but rich White Label services on revenue share basis.
SBC: What role does football play in your day to day operations?
JC: It is fair to say that in most of the regions where we operate, football is the king of the sports. It generates more than 70% of the content created by our operators using our professional trading and content management tools, or supplied to them by third party content suppliers. Our system processes millions of content transactions every month and football is the number one in the number of betting opportunities.
We also see in the demands from our partners’ product teams, that operators are focusing on areas such as customer experience simplification and personalisation, flexible and personalised promotions, clarity of the offer and product speed, stability and availability.
Each operator has its own views on whether to provide a specific product for Football or instead maintain a consistent user experience across the full sports catalogue. This is the nice side of the competition; OPTIMA systems allow the operators to take their own way, advised by us and by product specialists, to create the best products but which also line up with the vision, the philosophy and values of their organisations. Differentiation in the product is the way forward.
SBC: What is the extent of your product suite now? Which ones are most popular with your customers?
JC: The OPTIMA MGS suite includes a full range of products for the sports betting and e-gaming organisation. We deliver integral, turn-key solutions entirely developed, setup and supported by OPTIMA.
To explain our products, I’d like to first highlight that OPTIMA is not a betting and e-gaming operator, and does not offer white label solutions. OPTIMA works with operators as their technology partners. It is for our partners and customers to manage and exploit the betting and e-gaming business. We are at the base of the pyramid, providing innovation in product, technology and excellence in services.
MGS allows real time, fully centralised management and liability control of multi-channel, online, mobile, retail, and call centre operations. But it also allows the setup of multiple brands with partner operation delegation schemes.
What this means in practice is that one of our operators could delegate the full management of a website or mobile site to one or more of their own white-label partners, while retaining bet acceptance and bonus management in a centralised position.
This is why we say OPTIMA MGS is a true B2B/B2C betting and e-gaming system for true bookmakers and gaming operators and certainly OPTIMA does not target the white label market.
At the online front-end level, we have fully customisable vanilla products delivering a super-fast, fluid and dynamic, superb end-user experience with the capacity to manage as much content as the operator requires. These include components and applications for web and mobile powered by our new POSEIDON internet messaging system, the new real time business intelligence environment and HYDRA, our new in-memory multi feed content aggregation system.
On the bricks and mortar business, the evolution of the renowned FINSOFT EPOS into OPTIMA MGS SERVERLESS EPOS, has converted our EPOS solution not only in the market’s richest feature till system but also, made it the most powerful, secure, fast, reliable and cost effective.
Also in the retail landscape, our iShopBetting product allows customers to bet anonymously with their own mobile phones in venues, and has created a new business channel for the retail betting environment.
At the backend and management level, our new PMS – promotions management system provides features that no other system in the market currently provides, and our new Business Intelligence system, which is powered by the MGS-embedded Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition and the Oracle Online Analytics, which now comes as standard part of our MGS suite.
SBC: Are there huge differences between the markets you service or is the industry becoming homogenous across borders?
JC: There are differences, big differences based on the customer expectations around how the products are consumed and used. There are also differences in regulations and differences in the level of compliance demanded by different regulators, never mind the differences in the technology available to the end customer in different regions of the world.
These are the main challenges to deliver a single product for all the markets. We don’t think the same product could work in all the markets; in fact we think that it confuses and reduces the end-customer’s enjoyment.
Different strategies must be put in place by the leading operators at the compliance, technology and product levels. MGS allows our partners to be able to setup completely different products, with different regulation requirements, and different frontend products based on regions and markets.
SBC: What’s the secret to great customer service?
JC: We at OPTIMA think that a great customer service must be built and supported in two main pillars: company philosophy and culture. A Customer is King strategy is definitely required, but also using systems that make all the customer data always available to the CS team. This is paramount.
Knowing your customer, having a single view of the customer regardless of how many products from different suppliers are made available by the operator through their business channels, and effectively tracking the customer experience in real or near real time, allows the development of an excellent, proactive and dynamic customer service.
On the other hand, establishing and executing a ‘Voice of the Customer’ strategy, where customer feedback is really and seriously considered, is also key to build a great customer service.