Clarion’s Ewa Bakun & Silvia Peneva Discuss EIG Barcelona with SBC

eigbarcaThe SBC Team had time to catch up with Ewa Bakun Head of Content for Clarion Events and Silvia Peneva – Programme Manager – iGaming at Clarion Events to discuss this year’s EiG Barcelona this coming October, 8th-10th.

On show will be iGaming’s biggest names displaying their latest innovations. EiG will also host speaker sessions on all the biggest issues in the current Gaming and iGaming market. For more information on the 2013 EiG conference in Barcelona Click Here

SBC: Why is this year’s EiG conference so important, you seem to have all the big names in iGaming coming to Barcelona? 

SP: This year’s EiG is all about dissecting the anatomy of iGaming. It is a re-focus on the core verticals that make iGaming businesses successful and a microscopic zoom in into the minute details which can improve efficiency, make businesses more cost-effective and allow for further investment in innovation and the adoption of new technologies. We have heeded the calls of the industry to focus on key growth areas to help businesses succeed in a highly competitive European market with tough regulatory requirements and a difficult economic context.

Moreover, EiG remains true to its core proposition as the sole European event dedicated to iGaming which offers a more intimate space and more time for networking and learning than larger tradeshows. The on-going regulation of iGaming in the US and the new developments in some Latin American countries are also increasingly attracting a keen audience from these countries to come and learn from Europe’s experiences.

Silvia PenevaSBC: The igaming conference circuit is becoming quite saturated and with a lot sessions covering old ground, how do you keep your conferences interesting and progressive for the attending delegates

SP: Like every company in a competitive environment, we are always in search of innovation and creativity to take our products to new strengths each year. We continue to get to know our audience as we constantly expand our contacts to bring in fresh perspectives. Our production team is all about communicating with the industry, building strong relationships with all sectors and their stakeholders and understanding their needs, desires, challenges and what ‘keeps them awake at night’. Bringing in new speakers, innovative solutions through Start-ups, all the top exhibitors with their latest products (25% new business secured so far at EiG 2013, and we are still 2 months out!) and going to great lengths to find even a small new grain in an ‘old ground’ debate is what creates diverse content.

An important part of this package is to actively listen to what the industry tells us, evolve with their needs and always seek to reflect their energy, entrepreneurial spirit and dynamism in every event and show we stage. On this note, we have introduced a range of new formats which break away from the traditional classroom style panel discussions. The ‘Network to Learn’ Initiative introduces formats which are a mixture between networking and learning and spans across the EiG Workshops, EiG Tutorials, Roundtable focus groups and Breakfast With…sessions. On the other hand there are a lot more solo power presentations and talks from top names in the industry which add dynamism and excitement to the conference and offer new insight.

To support the content we produce, we also seek to create an  EiG ‘experience’ and we invest a lot of time, resource and energy in creating a vision for EiG. By vision I mean creating an all-encompassing environment which predisposes our delegates to feel comfortable and open to networking, learning and socialising; an ‘all-embracing experience’. Expect some bold and exciting changes to the interior design of EiG which go hand in hand with the new formats and features we have implemented this year.

SBC: This year EiG has a strong focus on Start-ups in igaming, can you give us more information into what new faces will be attending and why you chose to emphasise new business ventures in igaming.

EWABEB: EiG has a six year history now in attracting start-ups through the Start-Up LaunchPad competition where 5 start-ups, selected in an application process that last year saw 27 submissions, get to pitch their propositions in front of investor panel and the EiG audience. We have been expanding the opportunities for start-ups on the specific request from the EiG audience looking for innovation and completely new products and approaches to iGaming. There will be plenty of start-ups at EiG this year, not only presenting at the LaunchPad, but also exhibiting their products in a dedicated Start-Up Village and on the Pitch, another new feature focused on showcasing innovation in Barcelona.

Can I just add that the deadline for the LaunchPad submissions is 29 August and I encourage all start-ups to get in touch and use that great opportunity to raise capital and gain some industry exposure.

SBC: You seem to have lined up a stellar cast of Keynote speakers; can you tell us more about these conference headliners? Also as a team what do you look at when selecting your keynote speakers?

SP: The search for EiG’s keynote speakers always begins in the research process before putting the agenda together. The industry has the final say on who they would like to hear from and network with. This year the focus is on four exclusive keynotes with very different backgrounds and expertise.

We have heard for a long time now that the industry wants to find out more about the phenomenal success of Amazon and in particular their pioneering approach to creating a customer-centric culture and data-strategy. Similarly, the iGaming industry also needs to manage Big Data and understand the preferences of its multi-channel customers to optimise marketing strategies and increase efficiency. That’s why the insight from Andreas Weigend, the former Chief Scientist at Amazon.com – one of the principal architects of the Amazon strategy – is an EiG contribution of great relevance and offers the potential to think outside the box and learn from one of the most successful technology- driven companies in the world.

The second keynote is the newly appointed CEO  & President of the American Gaming Association, Geoff Freeman whom we are very pleased to welcome to EiG for his first speaking engagement since his appointment earlier this summer. The AGA’s influence and importance in US regulation of iGaming is of great significance and the industry is keen to find out what direction Geoff will stir the AGA in, what that will mean for US regulatory change and how it will affect iGaming operators in the long run.

As an opening keynote in the Regulatory Think Tank, we opted for a slightly different approach this year aiming to offer a glimpse into the future of the regulation of gaming. In relation to the recent dilemmas faced by regulators with regard to social games and their convergence with real-money gaming, we wanted to look into the future of technology and give the audience the opportunity to think about what new challenges technological developments could bring up for regulators. Simon Moores is a futurist and has been an adviser to the UK Government on new technology, thus being the perfect candidate to give an insightful analysis of what the thought process of governments and regulators is when it comes to approaching new gaming channels enabled by technological developments.

Last, but not least, Giles Thomas, former Marketing Director of SEGA and MTV Networks, joins EiG for a riveting discussion with top CMOs from the industry on building a successful brand. In a highly competitive and saturated European marketplace with limited differentiation between products on offer, operators need to build an emotional connection with their customers to retain them and gain their loyalty in the long term. Building a strong iGaming brand with those qualities is no longer an option, but a must.

SBC: EiG has become a regular fixture in the igaming calendar; some might even call it a highlight of the iGaming business season. How has your team made this happen?

EB: EiG is in its 12th year now, so has a long history of serving the iGaming sector. It has changed over the years and adapted to the new industry developments, but remained in its core a truly iGaming-focused conference, attended by the real decision-makers, people with influence and purchasing power. At the same time the event continues to attract the start-ups and brand new companies entering the iGaming market and I think it’s that mix of iGaming CEOs, senior director-level practitioners and new entrants, whether from newly opening markets or start-ups, that makes EiG a vibrant event.

As for the organisational part of EiG, even though we’ve been doing EiG for such a long time, we never assume what the industry wants and every year, the event’s production is preceded by a long and in-depth consultation process when we talk to the industry to find out how EiG can satisfy their business needs in that particular year.

SBC: As people working in igaming conferencing,  a sector that places a deep focus on networking, do you feel that Conferences such as EiG can set a wider agenda or bring certain issues to the forefront of iGaming. Is this also a good or bad factor for iGaming?

EB: The number of so many powerful and influential people in one place at EiG makes it quite a think-tank where issues around business, regulation or innovation become really dissected. In order to create an environment that caters even more to an exchange of ideas, this year’s EiG will offer even more interactive features and meeting-style sessions where the barrier between the speakers and the audience will be broken to allow for a free flow of inspiration and real debates.

SP: Apart from capturing through an in-depth research process what issues the industry is interested in dissecting further at EiG, we always think of where the future will take iGaming business and aim to create sessions which offer the potential for future agenda setting within the industry. The key is to provide our audience with thought-provoking speakers (beyond the iGaming field as well) who add a different slant to all the usual opinions we hear and make our audience think from different angles about the problems they need to solve in their field.

The highlights and conclusions made at a conference are a means to drive further discussion and progress in the industry and I think it’s a great thing for any industry.

SBC: Finally what do you want delegates to take away with them from this conference?

SP: New ideas on how to approach issues they have been working on throughout the year, successful business deals, new contacts, and innovative and inspiring solutions to drive their business forward in the future. And, of course, lasting great memories from Barcelona and EiG.

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Ewa Bakun
Head of Content for Clarion Events

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Silvia Peneva
Programme Manager – iGaming at Clarion Events
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