OPTIMA: Taking an operator-led approach to R&D

The openness to innovation, the research to support new innovation, the resources to gain ‘first mover advantage’ for such innovation, or the response time to existing innovation. Whatever the context, innovation is a buzzword that dominates the industry agenda.

However, sports betting and gaming solutions provider OPTIMA has taken a slightly different approach to arming its operators with the right innovation to challenge on a global level.

Speaking at the recent Betting on Football conference at Stamford Bridge, the firm’s CEO Jacob Lopez said that its research and development (R&D) team is there to “bring ideas and innovative solutions, but really those leading this as the ones that know best about the market and individual regions, are our operators”.

Lopez, who was joined on a panel discussing ‘The jumping off point for innovation’ by Olympic Entertainment Group CTO Omer Efraim, Novibet CEO George Athanasopoulos and Kambi CCO Max Meltzer, added that his R&D team is providing the “building blocks for implementing what operators want as part of their own roadmap”.

Having started out with just 12 colleagues in July 2012, Lopez now oversees a team of nearly 200 across many departments, all of whom he expects to play a part in R&D.

“When you have a company that is servicing leading operators in the market, everyone has to be involved with R&D,” he said. “It’s not just a single person or team with an idea.”

To explain the operator-first approach, he explained that each of OPTIMA’s clients – which includes the likes of Betfred – has an individual roadmap to prioritise (or deprioritise) the integration of both solutions unique to OPTIMA and those more common to the industry.

“Can we ourselves do better than the 72 operators we service?” Lopez continued. “It’s a no-go. We need to listen constantly to what these operators want, implement those we think will be ‘industry musts’ for the next few years, then develop the supporting architecture and technology, so everything is fully scalable, secure and compliant with regulations.

“If we try to service 72 operators with a single R&D product idea, we are going to make them all very similar to each other. In the end it will be the OPTIMA product for the market when actually operators are chasing that unique value-add for their customers. If you don’t listen to your operators, you can make wrong decisions and end up being slower to market.”

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