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Partnerships that solve the ‘tech headache’
Working with third-party service providers from non-igaming sectors such as ecommerce is central to solving evolving technology challenges experienced by operators, according to Playtech’s VP of product strategy Anthony Evans and innovation strategy manager Boaz Shlevin.
Solving the “technology headache” in a changing igaming space requires a holistic approach in order to identify areas where issues need to be resolved. At times, this can only be provided quickly and efficiently with outside help, rather than in-house expertise.
“We look at the whole value chain and what can be beneficial to the offering,” Evans said. “We take inspiration from elsewhere and often other sectors.
“We have a team of product researchers who proactively seek out partners who can solve a problem, and sometimes the third parties approach us. It is by no means a one-size-fits-all approach and obviously you can gain insights and inspiration from customers, as well as other industries.
“For example, gamification has worked in many different scenarios in other sectors, like airlines and hotel chains, and there is every chance it will work in real-money gambling too.”
In terms of the areas in which Playtech seeks third-party support, technological solutions that can enhance the personalisation of the punter’s experience is increasingly a focus.
Like gamification, converting retail customers to digital is another growth area, whereas in mature gambling markets like the UK, compliance tools that cover fraud, identification and risk are more important than ever for operators.
Shlevin highlighted ecommerce as a sector of particular interest. In the saturated market of online shopping, innovation is a must in order to cut through the clutter.
One such example to emerge from the field is Dynamic Yield, an automated real-time personalisation and optimisation solution that agreed a long-term deal with Playtech nearly five years ago.
“They were always active in ecommerce, so it was good for us that what they learnt from that sector could be brought over to igaming,” Shlevin said.
“It is positive when our partners work in other industries as we can learn the good practices alongside them as they have one foot in gaming and one in another sector.”
The benefits of a successful third-party partnership work for all concerned, Shlevin added. The operator obviously benefits from receiving a solution that solves a particular problem, but the third party also benefits from the support of Playtech’s staff and experience, as well as the company’s network of clients and partners, affording their offering a broader audience.
“It is much easier for them to engage with an operator if we are working alongside them, rather than if they had dropped out of the sky,” Shlevin said.
Risk and reward
Playtech’s partnership programme has grown significantly over the past 18 months, with more partners in the pipeline. When prospective partners are considered, there is often plenty of competition for a particular role from a large number of start-ups, as well as established providers.
Of course, where there is reward, there is also risk. However, both Evans and Shlevin insisted that potential future issues can be mitigated with a thorough selection process underpinned by detailed due diligence.
“If you innovate, there is always risk, but innovation is what we have become known for over the past 20 years,” Evans said. “With some partners we work in conjunction with a sponsored licensee to make sure from day one there are good test cases of the technology.”
For Shlevin, there are a number of different aspects to consider.
“The factors that need to be considered include whether the technology and product is right, whether we believe in the people at the business and whether we believe the company has a bright future,” he said.
“It’s also about checking whether the people leading the business have a track record of success, and you also look at the company’s financial outlook and investments.
“We always have a quarterly review with our partners and we often work very closely with them on a more regular basis to ensure everything is on track.”
The competitive nature of the partnership programme is underlined by Playtech’s collaboration with Captain Up, a real-time engagement and retention service. Nineteen contenders were whittled down to a shortlist of three before Captain Up was selected.
“We are very picky and until now we have been very happy with our selection of partners,” Shlevin said, before adding that quick and easy integrations can enable automated solutions for customers.
“We need to think like an operator so we can understand the challenges, but then we can do the heavy lifting for them.”
Evans added that a close relationship with operators can make it easier to identify where the vital challenges and opportunities lie for the company’s clients.
“There are lots of different potential touchpoints for support and it is about understanding where we can expand the toolset that we offer,” he said.
Additionally, whereas partners often remain third parties, there are occasions when they can be brought into the fold on a permanent basis. For example, two years ago, Playtech acquired data analytics provider BetBuddy.
“The fit was right,” Evans said. “It was not only a case of seeing that we could work together to solve a challenge and incentivise players, but also it was an opportunity to work towards fulfilling responsible gaming criteria.
“We have strong marketing capabilities in our platform and anything we can bolt on is appealing.”