E-commerce giant and gaming industry pioneer give top tips for digital strategy

E-commerce giant and gaming industry pioneer give top tips for digital strategy

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A ‘fireside chat’ with e-commerce giant, Brian McBride – Chairman of ASOS and former CEO of Amazon.co.uk – and gaming industry pioneer, Ralph Topping – former CEO of William Hill – was held this morning in the ICE VOX Platinum Suite, hosted by Event Chair, Sabinije von Gaffke.

The chat began with Topping recounting the changes in the world of gaming since he entered the trade back in 1970: “My first experience of betting shops was scary,” Topping recalled. “Legislation at the time said that betting shops should look like undertaker’s. The windows were blacked out, there was no marketing at all – nothing to say it was a betting shop – and no technology besides a kettle and the lightbulbs! The whole environment was stark and off-putting, but betting shops were packed and there were plenty of independent bookmakers.”

Asked why there was a tendency for the gaming industry to resist the shift towards technology when compared with ecommerce, Topping replied that bookmakers are often some of the most tech-forward people, but that they are “held back by legislation”.

McBride agreed that most industries were “not as heavily regulated as the gaming industry”, but had some frank advice for stakeholders: “You have to face the regulations head on and deal with them. You need good advisers around you, and that is going to cost you money, but I always say: never buy a cheap parachute.”

Both entrepreneurs agreed that the “natural order of things” was for there to be a move towards bigger organisations, with Topping predicting that many independents would be sold or closed over the next four to five years.

Asked what three pieces of key advice they had for stakeholders planning their digital strategy, both mogul’s answers were clear: “get a good team; you can’t do without brains and talent, and both are hard to come by!,” Topping joked.

“Change is inevitable, so don’t be a victim and embrace it,” said McBride. “Look as far ahead as you can in terms of technology; if you’re thinking about playing around with introducing PC platforms, skip straight to mobile – that’s the future”.

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