Four things needed to nurture innovation

Four things needed to nurture innovation

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Amitabh Ghatak: 'advent of mobile was perfect for an industry like ours'

The gambling industry’s innovation labs have been told the four things they should do in order to succeed by a former William Hill head of product development.

Amitabh Ghatak will be speaking at October’s EiG Expo and in his experience some of the teams tasked with bringing innovation to an operator’s product stream need to be prepared to accept that some things will not work. The recent trend for operators to create innovation labs, like Google's productive organisation, can work in this industry, but there also needs to be an injection of realism.

“One of the things we have to recognise is that we are not Google,” he explained about the ‘Labs’ concept. “Inherently this is not a flawed concept - it just needs some thinking beyond the tactical. Innovation Labs need a few things to succeed:

  • The willingness to experiment and fail - but with clear success/fail criteria up front
  • The desire to act as a startup and pitch to your stakeholders for additional funding/resources.
  • The ability to integrate the innovation into a core proposition like Sports or Casino.
  • Allow the innovation to mature over time and iteratively tweak based on data.”

Ghatak believes that many in the industry need to realise that we are not tech companies - although some companies are making genuine efforts to be one.

“Innovation can be multi-faceted,” he told “It need not be purely about adopting the coolest thing. The advent of mobile was perfect for an industry like ours especially in the context of sportsbetting. Until the time we have the desire and the tech platform to be ‘Innovators’, I don’t see anything wrong in being the ‘Early Majority’.”

Despite this, he still thinks that the industry should be ahead of where it is in terms of innovations. “As a technology enthusiast, I’m genuinely surprised by how little progress we’ve made on the gaming side. Are our slots particularly different from what they were in 70’s? Yes, the device has changed, but with such amazing (non-gambling) games coming to mobile devices, the current suite looks a little dated. Even if you look at the social casino world, they are quite ahead in terms of an 'entertaining experience' compared to RMG.”

One development that appears to be returning to the gaming space, given its appearance at ICE Totally Gaming with Microgaming and the iGaming Super Show with Slots Million, is virtual reality and retail operators might be forgiven for hoping that such products will help provide their premises with a destination experience.

“That’s a tough one,” conceded Ghatak. “There are suppliers already doing that in partnerships with land based casinos. It'll take some time for that to trickle down to the high street shop (if at all). Retail is a steady ship but with a changing demographic, it’s getting harder to stay profitable.

“It’s a bit chicken and egg - if you invest additional money, there’s hope for increased revenues. Certainly there needs to be a pivot within retail towards a different profile - and that could be tech driven, or could even be a partnership with another established chain.”

Amitabh Ghatak is speaking on the session entitled: Welcome to Tech Utopia! at EiG.

“FiWatch, VR, Augmented Reality, Emotional biometrics are just some of the latest technological innovations that promise to change the way we interact with products forever. How far can these ideas be taken? How can they be applied to gaming? And What’s next?”

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