How the industry interacts with innovation
How the industry interacts with innovation
iGaming Ideas founder David Sargeant is chairing a session on innovation at next week's EiG Expo. TotallyGaming.com caught up with him this week to see what his views are on how the industry interacts cultivates creativity.
Totally Gaming: You are chairing a session called "Innovation: Is the gaming industry doing enough?" What are your thoughts on that question?
David Sargeant: Depends what you mean by innovation. The iGaming industry is an arms race and most operators are always trying to evolve their product and systems just to keep up with each other.
Historically this has usually taken the approach of only absorbing tried and tested ideas and true innovation was hard to introduce to the market. This was not only due to mindset but due to cost of technology and the burden of legacy systems.
As technology is becoming more modularised, integration paths more accessible, and data and transactional interfaces more available these costs are coming down. At the same time as the cost barrier is reducing, mindsets are changing and cultures of innovation are emerging.
TG: How has the 'Labs' model worked in the industry - has it now fallen out of favour?
DS: The formal labs concepts, where startups get support, access to people and technology, and possibly funding, is alive and well in quite a few gaming companies. Informal support frameworks also exist that offer similar but arms length approaches. The best models are where partnerships are owned within a gaming organisation ensuring any roadblocks on the way to going live are overcome with personal support. It is all too easy for new ideas to get lost in large organisations.
Big bang approaches like labs competitions have been less successful. Although they bring awareness to many new ideas, the sheer volume approach means often startups do not realise what they are actually applying for until it is too late. A few operators have used these competitions as testing grounds for engaging the sea of startups, but this means little without a framework to support the companies after they have "won" the competition.
The lab model does fail in that it implies that innovation happens within a box by only a certain set of people. For a company to be truly innovative they have to be open to innovate, open to try new things and importantly be open to fail. This is often a hard concept to absorb. Innovation teams should be about be the gateway for innovation for an operator, and not just an R&D silo.
One of the startups I have been working with, Commologic, is exhibiting BetUp (an inPlay fan engagement game) at EiG. They have had great success with the innovation team at Unibet who have been particularly successful in championing new ideas to market.
TG: Where is the most exciting innovation happening at the moment?
DS: The iGaming industry is particularly fond of jumping on buzz words (think last year's DFS, this year's eSports, and next year's drone racing). However big data is changing the industry. We are only seeing the beginnings of the big data revolution and it is fundamentally changing how operators are reporting, segmenting, and now interacting with their customers.
TG: Are there any sectors that have been particularly stagnant?
DS: I don't think anyone in iGaming can be accused of being stagnant as technology has changed so fast. However certain verticals, such as lottery and horse racing, have been slow to adapt their long term appeal to younger markets.
TG: What's the best bit of advice for someone with a good concept?
DS: Make sure it is a good idea before you spend money disproving yourself. Make sure you validate every step of your concept with an outsider, whether business plan, prototype, or go live strategy. Ensure you target each and every pitch you make - not every bookmaker, operator, or investor is the same.
David Sargeant runs www.igamingideas.com a bridge between gaming operators and the sea of new ideas. iGaming Ideas is an innovation consultancy for gaming operators (helping them find new products, ideas, trends and services) and a startup incubator (helping gaming startups to market).
He will be moderating the panel Innovation: Is the gaming industry doing enough? at EIG at 10:30am on the 19th October. The panel will feature Unibet, SNAI, and Commologic.