A Q&A with Marcus Wareham

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Digital transformation consultant and now working with GamCrowd on various projects, Marcus Wareham talks through some of the issues that he addressed during last week’s GamCrowd TechWeek event.

GamCrowd: How would you describe the challenges facing the gambling sector when it comes to technology?
Marcus Wareham:
Legacy tech is the ball and chain. Inability to move quickly. Significant resource goes on keeping the lights on rather then progressing the product tech stacks. Lots of operators are beholden to their tech ‘partners’ rather than being able to control their own destiny. Even if they do change the system (at their cost) this just gets rolled out to their competitors so there’s no competitive advantage. The sporting calendar is how BAU (business as usual) is run (rightly so) but there are never any windows to readdress the balance between platform change/upgrade and ensuring operational stability for the next fixture. Change happens too slowly. Not enough of a test-and-learn approach, rather a fingers-crossed approach which is expensive. Platforms and architectures are creaking and this inhibits all of the above.

GamCrowd: What are the precepts of digital transformation and how do they apply to the gambling sector?
Marcus Wareham:
Mainly a sheep mentality (copy the rest). Innovation happens as a herd not as individuals. This compounds the issue above as roadmaps are torn up when a competitor launches something and all focus becomes copying it rather than existing plans. No big picture view and a misunderstanding of what agile development means and can achieve. Also, a lack of understanding of the consumer need. More early phase research is needed.   

GamCrowd: Do you think that gaming and sports-betting face differing challenges?
Marcus Wareham:
Historically yes, the difficulties in differentiation have been evident in gaming for some time, however this is now becoming the case for sports too; Everyone’s offer is the same and the fight had turned to bigger and greater acquisition offers rather than customer retention (which is where it should be). Consumers have no loyalty in sports mainly because they are offered no reason to be loyal.

GamCrowd: What technologies do you think will be transformational in the next few years and how will they apply in the gambling sector?
Marcus Wareham:
RegTech and blockchain – they will change the game as regulatory authorities and sports authorities will see it as a way of allowing safe gambling with audit trails, helping to ensure anti-money laundering and sports integrity. Knowing the customer and providing traceability will ensure all vested interests are met.

GamCrowd: How should companies go about the process of defining a digital strategy, if they don't already have one or re-designing one if they do? What are the key aspects of digital strategies?
Marcus Wareham:
Road-mapping, Test and Learn, Innovation Labs (correctly implemented), Agile processes and the right balance of investment in Game Changers, Product Evolution and Brilliant Basics (Hygiene). The sector needs to realise that the competition for attention is no longer just from competitors in the sector. As a form of entertainment, competition is coming from everywhere.