Ian Hutchinson, Chief Revenue Officer at Digitain, a software provider for sports betting and gaming platforms, shares his thoughts on how technology is effectively applied to sports betting. Mr. Hutchinson talks about the impact of technology on content, regulation, and user experience.
Rarely does a day go by without a news story about new developments in technology, whether that be relative to AI, the metaverse or blockchain. How well has the betting industry utilised these innovations, and what long-term potential do they offer?
Iain Hutchinson: New technologies and direct-to-consumer supply chains should always be evaluated as to the practical benefits to the end customer and the business.
Some theorists postulate that AI is front and centre, given that it could replace us as mere carbon-based life forms. As a company, we already embrace AI in specific parts of the business, such as risk management, fraud, and bonus prevention; the models can evaluate large data sets quickly for pattern detection and, thus, intervention strategies.
AI can also be applied to routine processes and, therefore, can be automated in certain parts of QA testing and virtual testing of user journeys.
Metaverse is perhaps a little away, given the overhype. Still, the basis of creating a digital experience is a sound one, and it shall be interesting to see with the launch of Vision Pro by Apple. How consumers would interact with digital services for augmented and virtual reality via the headset will influence the concept of metaverse 2.0.
The huge leaps forward in technology seen in recent times have run parallel to the spread of regulations in the sports betting industry; how has that influenced the development of the latest generation of sportsbook products?
IH: As a long-standing sports betting provider, we welcome regulatory change and the frameworks and implications to the underlying supply chain.
In terms of how we evaluate that into our technology methodology is really to understand what the regulation wishes to achieve. In broad terms, it is about consumer protection and providing practical tools that the player has more choice and, therefore, control. Once you understand the outputs or endpoints, you can work backward on the customer journey to implement the measures needed.
Regulations, of course, need to be balanced, and adhered to by all stakeholders. Still, consumers nowadays are very aware of their digital privacy rights and how digital services work, and therefore expect companies to be more aware of market sentiment and, of course, regulatory legal obligations.
How does this latest generation of sportsbook technology help operators to adapt more quickly to changing conditions such as major sporting events or introduction of new regulatory requirements?
IH: The core technology is modular and adaptive, as against solutions of old, which were very rigid, hard-coded, and inflexible, whereby a change request may take months, never mind a pipeline enhancement.
The tech stack now allows, if you like, more control by the partner operator to localise content via front-end headless CMS and integrate third-party solutions. For example, Digitain has multiple odds feed endpoints, which allows the partner to be specific on its odds pricing, margin, and risk management – thus providing more control over the revenue drivers for the business.
Discussions about sportsbook technology often focus on issues such as speed and data, while overlooking core functionality that every online business needs. How does Digitain assist its operator partners in their work with content and clients?
IH: Digitain’s CRM system supports the storage and centralises all the player data gathered from various inbound marketing channels. For example, players’ conversations, user preferences, key performance indicators, and operator decisions can all be accessed via the CRM dashboard.
Our flexible query builder tool allows analysis of the data stored in the CRM system to be available to the CRM’s marketing team for reporting, targeting, and segmentation. Information about Players, betting preferences, transactions, and the promotions players have taken part in are all included within the data lake or warehouse, which can be queried.
CRM marketing departments can therefore undertake quantitative data mining to more qualitative forms of analysis like pattern recognition and behavioural predictions. On top of this sits our AI-powered recommendation and player-behaviour prediction algorithms. This allows the operator to provide the players with the most relevant and engaging content.
While great UX and a broad product offering are undoubtedly key factors in player retention, customer surveys consistently find that the ability to swiftly deposit and withdraw funds is the most important thing to players. How does Digitain help operators remain agile in new markets?
IH: Payments are vital to any business and the movement of cash in and out of the platform. With a robust payment experience and solution, operators can acquire, retain, and reactivate their player base.
Paydrom, which is our payment solution, is a centralised payment management system. We have 400+ payment options, 50+ providers, and over 30 countries covered. It helps operators streamline their day-to-day operational payment processes.
What does Digitain have planned for the next 12 months? Is there anything exciting on the product roadmap that you can tell us about?
IH: We shall continue to expand our multi-jurisdictional reach across continental Europe, as we’ve recently opened our Romania Head office. Our business already holds licences and certifications in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom.
On the product side, we continue to look at automation and efficiencies, whether using AI-based methodology and models, especially on risk management and odds/event creation.
And we’re committed to putting our partner operators at the centre of the product development cycle so that we provide the optimal localised market solution that they need to run their business operations.
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