Innovation in iGaming, Done Right
No Putin, Innovation - not invasion. Some people simply don’t get it… in fact, when it comes to innovation, MOST people disregard it as a fancy PR stunt. Well, they are right. Vast majority of the times this term has been used, it was either a cheap trick to get some media attention, or because your HR department have contracted a hip agency who convinced them it would look cool (they have probably even used the term “fresh”) to run a hackathon. Hey, what ever happened with the acclaimed winners and their forward-thinking suggestions? Same as the Rubel’s value after the barbaric attack on our friends at the Ukraine - NOT MUCH. Let’s go back to the start. How do you properly adopt a concept of innovation? Best would be to go and look outside of our liver-hating industry. Elsewhere, beyond the mighty mountains of regulation and far away from any fun at work, people have like regular jobs, in ordinary companies. As such, they MUST adopt some sort of innovation. And since anyway they lead a boring lifestyle - they have time to think on how this should be done correctly.
Funny enough, a proper innovation project can NOT fail. Let me explain why:
• These projects must be fully backed up by top management, and the owner of the initiative should report directly to the CEO. Now, CEOs are never wrong, right? So that kinda helps :) Laughs aside, the fastest way to bury an innovation project is to… ask for fast ROI. In other words - assign such a project under a unit manager who’s just looking to cut on costs and improve profitability “yesterday”, and it will simply be a dead one by the next quarter. If you really wish to change something, then you must allow the proper time for it to flourish.
• Speaking of which, the project must be nurtured, with a dedicated budget to begin with. You can’t have a clever idea not being addressed because you “can’t afford it now”. Can you afford being left behind the competition and NOT taking any help you can get? EXACTLY.
• Last, and most difficult to comprehend, is that the best innovation projects begin with agreed metrics of success and at least a rough ROI. “But Mr. sexy consultant: that goes against what you just said!” No, it doesn’t - I never said you need a fast ROI, but you must have some kind of an ROI plan, even if you know for a certain fact that the project won’t even begin to repay itself in the first few months, or even longer. In fact, during that year (or so), you will be following KPIs that are based on increasing volume and activity; once the project is ready, the lead indicators will (finally) shift to profit.
Hence, it can’t fail. Because even if you’ve decided to trust a terrible idea, you gave it the proper tools and anything in your power to make it work. In case it didn’t, now you know for a fact that this approach is wrong. And that’s a thing not too many companies value properly - the deep and final understanding of what’s not correct. Usually, grandiose projects who just fake innovation, simply linger for ever - kept on artificial life support, pumped by management ego.
1. Strong ownership
2. Dedicated, appropriate resources
3. Take. Your. Time. (2 years minimum)
4. Capable planning, focused first at supporting KPIs and transitioning to ROI later
Now, let’s take this theory and try to adjust it to our daily routines. iGaming companies aren’t made for innovation - they are made to deliver, hard and fast. But we do have one advantage in this regard, as we all live and breath tech, and R&D projects are based on very similar processes, so there’s at least a good starting point.
Now, what’s the first problem you can solve by applying innovation in your non-generic CasinoX brand? I don’t know. Don’t have the faintest clue. You need to ask the employees - not external consultants, as broad-shouldered as they (/I) may be. And when you do that, be sure to carry the correct message: please help us to locate the challenges we as a company face, we aren’t looking for the solution. Just yet.
First, agree on the most urgent and crucial problems. And when you have them sorted, form multi-disciplinary teams of internal experts from across the organization: Marketing (ok, CRM… but for this purpose, let’s also include someone from acquisition; no - not him, god no), Customer Support, Product and Operations. They should try and come up with a 2-year plan in how to completely pivot on the issues at hand. Required budget and success metrics included, thank you very much. You take that plan and send it right back to the employees again, to hear what THEY think about it. After you gathering the feedback (a process which may involve a lot of curse words and naughty drawings), you can safely take it to the board, knowing that: (A) you have a problem which is recognized as valid by the relevant employees, as well as (B) there’s a possible solution, devised by the best functions in the company, and which has been (C) double authenticated by the entire team. Please give me money, people and time. And I will also be having a slice of cheesecake with that.
Again, by following the above, it can’t fail. At worst case, it can be not the right challenge to deal with at this time, or not the right approach. But unlike the Russian army logistical preparations - that’s not a fail.
Last, you need to remember that this entire concept of innovation is very new (“fresh” ;). There aren’t many sources you can rely on, or too many relevant courses in the Academy. You can use a consultant to guide you through the process - in fact, you probably should, and yes, I do happen to know a very good one :)
Happy to meet you during ICE and have a friendly chat about it, but know this: a good consultant won’t give you the answers. These can only be found by asking your colleagues - they know what bothers them (I mean, on top of your hygiene).
Before we say goodbye, until the London conferences - a bit of a relevant anecdote: have you heard that in Google, employees are encouraged to dedicate 20% of their time on “creating innovative stuff”? Well, that’s a myth. In fact - that extra time will be acceptable, only if it is being consumed AFTER working hours. So that’s 20% not out of 100%, but out of 120%; suddenly a Roulette RTP doesn’t sound that bad...
As an iGaming CRM consultant with 20+ years of industry experience, Shahar Attias has helped start-ups and publicly traded operators optimize their VIP Programs & Player Retention efforts. He can help your company benchmark your internal marketing strategy, procedures, loyalty and KPIs with the competition. Following senior executive roles with 888, Playtech, and Pokerstars, he has founded Hybrid Interaction. This boutique online gaming consulting firm has held more than 150 successful projects across all verticals and through most jurisdictions, including omni-channel projects with brick-and-mortar casinos in the Dutch, Swiss, Georgian, UK, and US markets. Among his clients are Hard Rock NJ, Casino du Lac (Partouche), Holland Casino, Grand Casino Baden, Horizons Casino, Groupe Barrière, Entain / GVC / BwinParty / Sportingbet / Bet.pt, IGT, William Hill, Crocobet, BetConstruct, Pin-up.ru, EvoPlay, bgo, Win2day, Neto, DazzleTag, and Platin Casino.