Selecting the right technology partner is one of the biggest decisions facing any sports betting operator, with cost, functionality, speed, service and user experience all competing to be the key factor in the final choice.
George Fotopoulos, COO of Vermantia, tells SBC News what to consider when making the decision and explains why he believes flexibility is the crucial thing to look for.
SBC: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us – can you tell us a bit about what your role entails?
George Fotopoulos: I’ve been in the betting and gaming industry for more than 15 years and have worked in business development, project management and commercial operations. Whilst previously working at Intralot I gained exposure to international business, implementing a number of high-profile projects around the world, including six years as the one of the company’s representatives in the United States.
Now I am privileged to have been part of Vermantia’s team since 2017. As the COO, I am responsible for the production and development of all large-scale partnerships, while overseeing day-to-day operations.
SBC: If you were to draw up an initial checklist of key issues for operators looking for a new technology partner, what would be on it?
GF: Vermantia has great experience in both selecting a technology partner and being one. At the top of my list would definitely be flexibility. There is no one-size-fits-all, thus the ability to fluctuate between customers and provide bespoke solutions is a must have.
Another key issue is sticking to deadlines, always evolving your offering and being ahead of the game – meaning solving a problem before the operator realises it’s there.
SBC: What additional factors do omnichannel and retail operators have to consider, compared to pure-play digital operators?
GF: Omnichannel and retail operators must always be aware of the norms and player traditions in each region. Whilst exclusively digital operators have a larger target group and the ability to alter a product in a matter of seconds, retail operators have basic and primitive factors to consider such as internet speed, latency, region language, region colours and operator strengths in the market, just to name a few.
SBC: How would the process differ depending on circumstances? For example, are the issues for companies wishing to be first to launch in a newly-regulated territory different to those faced by an operator looking to update an existing system in an established market?
GF: The circumstances always differ. An operator wanting to launch a new product or get an overall licence in a newly-regulated market has to jump through a series of legislative loopholes just to be able to launch. A technology partner must have the flexibility to adjust to each market not only from a legislative perspective but also having in mind the trends and customer needs of the players.
To update a product in an already established market has its own process and risks. There are many examples of products being successful and once updated they failed to maintain their superiority in the market.
Also, an update must fall within the scope of law of each region. The process does indeed differ in each circumstance but each has its own pitfalls and benefits, which an experienced technology partner must always be prepared for.
SBC: Any successful business has to make meeting the needs of customers central to its plans; how can that be prioritised in the process of choosing a technology partner, when operators also have to keep a close eye on costs and timescales?
GF: Choosing a technology partner is a long-term investment. Although cost is a significant factor to consider, the ROI each technology partner has to offer is more important.
As previously mentioned, operators have a checklist depending on their individual needs, for some cost is more important than timeframes, quality is higher than cost efficiency etc. A good technology partner must be able to provide flexibility in their offering in terms of cost and timeframe, but without sacrificing their product quality.
SBC: Player tastes, which events are popular, and even consumer technology all change over time; how important a consideration is the ability to react to this and easily adapt or add to a platform when selecting a technology supplier?
GF: A good technology partner must work ahead of the game. An expert technology partner has the power to create trends, amend tastes and influence technology, making them well prepared for any changes ahead.
The key is knowledge of the market, product offering and quick adaptability. Fortunately, due to the ever-changing market, technology suppliers are constantly tested on their product flexibility and market adaptability.
SBC: When debating technology providers, one issue that always comes up is in-house versus turnkey solutions. How realistic is it for any company, outside the handful of truly global operators, to attempt to successfully build, maintain and consistently upgrade their own tech stack?
GF: Vermantia has proudly for the past 15 years offered turnkey solutions to more than 32 operators globally. When talking about a true technology supplier, turnkey solutions should be embedded in their DNA without risking the quality or speed of their offering.
SBC: How does Vermantia support operators during the process of selecting a new technology partner?
GF: Over our 15 years of operations, we have created trusting relationships with our customers and partners. Being a technology partner ourselves, we have high standards for selecting a new one.
We often suggest technology partners that we have worked with or are currently working with and have been through the test of time. We are not afraid to invest in smaller partners that show great perspective as they are often tested through our platforms and go through a number of durability tests before we collaborate with them or suggest them to an operator.
It is not an easy procedure but we trust our instincts and the experience that has made us a worldwide content and technology provider for retail operators.
Vermantia is a sponsor of SBC Summit Barcelona, the global betting and igaming show at Fira Barcelona Montjuïc on 20-22 September, and the SBC Awards 2022, which take place on 22 September at The Palau Nacional, Barcelona.