PHIL HORNE DISCUSSES THE VALUE OF BIG DATA WITH G3 MAGAZINE
In recent years, data insights have helped SG Gaming develop a level of understanding around its customers and their use of its products that hadn’t been achievable in the past. By finding and understanding the way customers are engaging with its products, its development teams can create new metrics to understand the customer journey better, and in turn develop and refine products to create a more exciting and entertaining gaming experience. The big data revolution doesn’t just concern products and player experience – effective management of data across sectors could help create a joined-up approach in enhancing products that ensure effective player protective measures. In this Q&A, SG Gaming UK CEO Phil Horne looks at what has been implemented so far, and how data can be effectively harnessed in the future.
In the retail gaming environment how can data be utilised effectively to drive strategy?
At SG Gaming, we believe that the key to utilising data correctly comes from the team’s ability to use it in context with other data sources and not in isolation. Whilst facts and figures provide us with a good understanding of how our products are used, it’s only when combined with analysis of customer engagement that we can we can identify changing trends and adapt accordingly. However, our strategies for growth and development can’t be defined by a sole reliance on digital data, but instead a combination of direct customer feedback, environmental and political factors, and our own creativity and hands-on experience. All of this feeds into our development cycle, helping us to make informed decisions – whether that’s working on new products, games or the complete customer experience.
With multiple streams of information now available how does SG manage this to ensure it adds value?
SG Gaming benefits from being part of the wider Scientific Games group, providing us with global insights and learnings to help us scale our use of resources and information. With ever increasing masses of data it’s a continuous challenge for any company to effectively pick out the key insights when there are multiple streams feeding into their business. We have set up teams within SG Gaming specifically to provide insight and analysis expertise, so we can maintain a clear focus on how such data is interpreted and then implemented. Our data analysts and data mining experts as part of our dedicated BI & Analytics team provide both our business and our customers with the information they need to manage their venues and instigate initiatives that help to drive cashbox performance.
It still takes a joined up approach across teams including R&D, product and marketing all working together, communicating and sharing information effectively, to ensure that our product exceeds our customers’ expectations and delivers an offering that is both engaging and exciting.
Predictive analytics is used significantly online and in the retail environment, is it something SG Gaming believes can enhance its customer offering?
Predictive analytics allows us to gain a deeper understanding of player behaviour and the gaming environment, which in turn allows us to develop and deliver a more customised experience across all the sectors we operate in. Whether it’s in player retention, promotions or content development, being able to focus on what happens next is a valuable tool and something that is likely to grow in importance as technology evolves.
Whilst online you can be bombarded with pushed advertising and promotions that use predictive analytics to monitor behaviour, we as a business are looking at using predictive analytics as a tool to enhance the customer journey and provide insight to help define business strategy. In conjunction with this, predictive analytics could also be a powerful tool for promoting responsible gambling by informing discussions on effective methods of intervention where needed.
Data comes in all different forms, but are all data sources important to businesses in today’s society?
Businesses have never had more data at their disposal than today, and this is only going to increase as technology advances over time. However, it is important to analyse the quality of the data to ensure that it is being used effectively to enhance the customer journey and help operators. Any data source can be important, if it can be validated. However, raw facts and figures will always have to be considered against a variety of other factors to be of any worth in the decision-making process.
The more we learn about player behaviour and our products from access to the various data streams, the more informed the strategy and decision making is going forward. But it would be naive for a business to just rely on its own insights – at SG Gaming we source data from public sources, gambling regulators and trade bodies, and we also commission our own independent research initiatives in order to challenge, validate and answer the big questions that drive our own strategy.
How can data be used effectively to build responsible gambling initiatives and player protection measures across gaming channels?
As an industry leading gaming supplier, responsible gambling and player protection measures sit at the heart of our business. We continue to look for a joined-up, industry wide agreed set of initiatives that work for players, whether that’s for Casino, LBO, Bingo, Arcade or online and data insights can certainly help us achieve this goal.
With a platform where real-time events are logged, we have developed tools that can be used to manage a player’s session, helping them set their own spend and time, creating breaks in the game, as well as providing staff-facing alerts to enable personal intervention. Ultimately, we want to create a customer journey that provides the capability for every player to consider their playing options, without impacting heavily on gameplay and entertainment.
By utilising key data correctly, sharing insight and experiences across businesses and sectors throughout the industry, it should ultimately help lead to a unified approach to responsible gambling measures.