GamCrowd has written previously about how Tel Aviv is a hub for tech innovation in the gambling industry. Companies such as Playtech, 888 and others have been breeding grounds for entrepreneurial ideas centred around the gaming sector, whether it is operators, games developers, online marketing businesses or software suppliers. Beehive is just one such new idea. The company was formed by a group of ex-gaming executives with the aim of providing technology-driven business analytics services to the industry. The chief executive is Adi Dagan, previously himself at Playtech, and GamCrowd caught up with him at the recent EiG show in Berlin to discuss how he sees the further adoption and utilisation of big data affecting the industry in the medium to long-term and why he thinks it could be the single biggest growth factor for the industry in the coming years. Dagan is convinced big data holds the key to the industry’s future, and the long list of clients the company already has on its roster (including Ladbrokes, SNAI and the Winner brands) is testament to the strength of his business message.
GamCrowd: How much of what your company provides to its customers been enabled by the advances in big data in recent years?
Adi Dagan: Above anything else, Beehive is a data-driven company. Since we were founded, all of our products are based on consuming, aggregating and analysing accurately the most relevant data. Of course, advances in this field make our life far easier. What we have done is build an innovative new approach based on the latest technology and applied it to the gaming sector.
GamCrowd: It appears that the gambling industry has been slow to take up the utilisation of big data - why do you think this is?
Adi Dagan: I think there are two very different problems gambling companies are facing. We are at a stage where just about everyone is now aware of the importance of big data. Many are looking at solutions without really understanding what outcomes and values they should be aiming for, and how it can actually boost their bottom line. The rest have solutions in place, but are not sure how to progress and make the data work for them in practical ways. It’s not about having a big data solution in place – it’s about what your organisation expects to benefit from it.
GamCrowd: What is the potential for better utilisation of big data to transform the gambling sector?
Adi Dagan: Done properly, the utilisation of big data should be the single biggest factor behind growth in the gambling sector for the foreseeable future. It you look at the industry today competition is so intense that marketing costs are soaring. The industry’s reaction to this has been to consolidate, believing that scale will solve their problems. However, there are still huge inefficiencies in the way marketing budgets are spent. We have the tools available to improve this – it is case of educating the right people and making these tools work for the sector as a whole.
GamCrowd: What kind of changes in terms of KPIs can you effect on a company's performance?
Adi Dagan: Our marketing optimisation tools can boost conversion, retention and, at the end of the day, the customer’s lifetime value. We’ve built an engine that is tailored specifically to the gaming industry, so marketing teams can analyse and segment by relevant metrics, like stake size or preferred vertical. The idea is to give our customers a tool they can very easily use – and increase KPIs from day one.
GamCrowd: What do you think are the blockers within gambling organisations with regard to fully utilising the data at their disposal?
Adi Dagan: It's all about understanding the value of such solutions. Organisations need to clarify exactly how they envisage benefitting from big data. A chief executive talking about the importance of a big data solution does not mean anything in isolation. Operators need a data product that brings value to their precise proposition.
GamCrowd: Do gambling operators share enough of their data with key suppliers? Does their reluctance to share data hold them back? Indeed, do they share enough of their own information internally?
Adi Dagan: I think this has been a problem historically, but it is changing. Today I see far more operators who understand that in order to get real value out of their data, they need to hand it over to the experts. This means either putting a strong in-house team in place, or finding the right product and partner and letting them handle it.
GamCrowd: Are the marketing efforts of many operators hampered by their lack of data utilisation?
Adi Dagan: Most definitely. We encounter such cases on daily basis, where operators could do so much more with their data - but just don't know how and what to do with it. This is where Beehive can bring a lot of value to organisations. We are an agile technology firm that can innovate and deliver the type of speed and agility in this space that larger operators cannot. Startups have a critical role to play in spurring growth in the gaming industry.
GamCrowd: What are the limits of what you can do with the data?
Adi Dagan: I don’t think in terms of limits when it comes to data. When you look at the progress the sector has made over the past few years, it has been nothing short of staggering. Of course, it is hard to predict the nature of technology in the next three, five or 10 years, but there is no doubt that better uses of data will be at the heart of everything. I am a true believer of products that simply deliver results. The world of big data has become very vague – to the extent that the majority of people don’t really know what it actually means. So for me, and Beehive, it’s more about relevant data than big data.
GamCrowd: On your base in Tel Aviv, why do you think that it has become such a hub for online gambling services?
Adi Dagan:Israel is well-established as a major entrepreneurial hub. The success of Playtech and 888 very quickly made Israel a centre for iGaming, and now most major operators and providers have an office here, more often than not in Tel Aviv. Our approach to business – which has always been to think and move quickly, while being aggressive and direct when the right opportunities present themselves – certainly brings results.