Published on January 23rd, 2020
International Game Technologies (IGT) has been steadily creating new solutions throughout the 2010s – their innovations include integrated casino suites, multi-platform systems, skill-based slot cabinets, Virtual/Augmented reality, and use of AI in gambling.
In the 2020s, the industry giant is gearing up to focus on the implementation and expansion of these ideas, creating «customer first» experiences tailored to the preferences of any given player.
According to a Cybaea case study, this approach is especially successful in the online gambling niche, with the potential to deliver incremental 5.5% in Net Gaming revenues from quick wins, as well as 20%+ in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).
The revenue gain applies only to the first 30 days, with profits past that mark likely to get even higher. Let’s explore how the IGT model works, according to CEO Walter Bugno.
A Guide Of How To Conduct ‘Customer First’ Approach By IGT
In an interview during the ClubsNSW Annual Conference, Bugno talked about the Australian club and casino industry, but also discussed broader IGT strategies relevant to their approach.
The mantra is Customer First – know them, understand them, meet and exceed their needs – as it is their custom that permits me to operate my business every day.
The part about knowing and understanding customers takes on a new context after the introduction of the IGT Play.
AI for lotteries and other gambling activities. Here are a few ways in which this tech allows for better experiences:
- Economic prediction. 15 days after a new product launch, IGT can predict its future performance with a 97% accuracy. It allows for more controlled experiments.
- Adaptivity. With the preferences of millions of players in their database, algorithms can suggest the best ways to enjoy their games of choice.
- Player-Driven performance. Data and metrics allow us to stay on top of trends and deliver interactive gaming experiences people want to engage with.
- Sustainability and social good. With this amount of real-time information, it becomes possible to address and reverse issues such as problem gambling.
It is reflected in another quote from the Bugno interview, “Our desire to connect with players at deeper and more meaningful levels lead to trends in systems innovation.”
Because players are looking for more interactive experiences, cashless payments, instant feedback, and skill-based games, IGT has no choice but to create systems that account for that.
- Developing such systems is a 4-step process:
- Be one step ahead. Understand and create new trends.
- Design new approaches. Test and iterate on solutions.
- Gain insights into player motivations. Gather actionable data and insights.
- Build bridges. Connect with players directly to develop solutions.
Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail.
1. Be One Step Ahead
Industry giants such as IGT have a unique position on the market. On the one hand, they’re established and are already have market dominance.
On the other hand, they’re vulnerable to disruption by startups that challenge the casino status quo. To stay on top of the gambling market, IGT can’t simply follow trends – they have to set them instead.
It means a focus on customer-facing tech. IGT won various industry awards in 2019, applying to their slot machines, lotteries, as well as player experience solutions.
Knowing the gambling industry also allows them to have an impact where it matters. IGT machines are installed in thousands of casinos globally, with their software powering even more online.
When the corporation creates a new solution such as a slot machine lineup, they get access to an economy of scale – millions of customers likely to play these games, potentially setting a new industry-wide trend.
For IGT slots, in particular, 2020 will see expansions on three innovations:
- Mystery progressives. Games where a hidden trigger sets off unique bonus features.
- Multi-Level progressives. Games with rewards based on player level, tier, etc.
- Skill-based slots. Games with arcade elements and tests of skill rather than chance.
All of these already saw earlier ring-fenced experiments to gauge success before big releases.
For example, the Multi-Level Progressive feature was tested in slot games such as free Double Diamond slots: no download. Some versions of the game had a multi-level paytable.
Online casinos changed payouts on this slot machine based on player activities – those who played for fun in free play, or with no registration got access to different features from players who participated in loyalty programs.
2. New Approaches
Experiments are mandatory to set up new trends. At the same time, successful trend prediction allows for more free-range innovations – both of these steps feed into each other to complete the IGT customer-first model.
According to an E-Consultancy market survey, online gambling is still the largest impactful industry change that hasn’t been researched in full. For example, the question of player retention had the following responses:
The above survey responses show how a large portion of players didn’t get what they wanted in terms of offers or incentives.
The iGaming providers didn’t make enough to keep their interest. Poor interfaces and user experience further contributed to leaving websites, with many of the above responses relating to the same issue. Some players left due to losses and weak prices.
Insights like this create room for actionable experiments. It’s no surprise that industry giants are focusing so much on mobile experience and easy to use interfaces, try out new player incentives (level systems, bonuses, etc.) and reach new generations of players through interactive tools like Virtual and Augmented Reality.
In addition, Walter Bugno emphasized that “the changing demographics provide clear insights into differences in players’ interests.” It concerns entering new markets.
You cannot apply the same approaches for different regions without research background. Otherwise, the entrepreneur is fated to face with failure and relocating of the business.
These experiments have a bonus of accumulating player data to gauge the players’ motivations.
3. Players’ Motivations
Audience insights aren’t worth much if they’re not actionable. Let’s use the following question from the same survey as an example:
It’s self-evident that players would always be looking for the best win odds/returns and user-friendly experiences.
At this stage, the survey does not tells directly what a gaming company such as IGT should focus on.
However, this is where the experimentation and new approaches change the picture. There’s little value in rough poll information, but when it’s paired with an experimental solution, things change.
IGT has access to similar surveys and analytics about their latest products, such as skill-based slots and interactive betting terminals.
Asking why players used one machine over another on the casino floor or online can be far more valuable.
Quoting Walter Bugno, “Sophisticated diagnostics tools enable operators to best understand their players and optimise their floors.” These diagnostics allow to not only tell what people play but why they play.
For example, research shows that Millennials are looking for different experiences than older casino goers.
There’s a significant shift in their motivation and reasoning, which developers can appeal to create innovative products. In technology, actionable insights will always be worth more than simple datasets.
4. Building Bridges
Authorities worldwide believe that the larger a corporation is, the more social responsibility it has.
It is why sustainability is enforced, and why industries such as iGaming vice are taxed harder than base necessities in most countries.
To meet players where they are, corporations have to accept these responsibilities in a show of good faith. As major changes are made toward the customer but not regarding the company itself.
As a multinational corporation, IGT has to do this in all countries they operate in. Their latest sustainability report discusses efforts in environmental protection, charity, problem gambling awareness, and other global initiatives.
IGT holds 8 contact centers in 5 countries covering various time zones to connect with customers directly 24/7. It helps solve problems and develop solutions that address customer needs locally.
It includes a variety of touch points such as live calls, chats, e-mails, in-person visits, and so on. “The combined products, solutions and capabilities of the new IGT offer our customers more resources and support than ever before,” mentions Bugno.
To summarize this guide, making the IGT Customer First approach work requires them to set trends, experiment with solutions, gather data every step of the way, and connect with players directly.
Only a full-cycle approach like this can predict behaviors. In the end, this allows customers to get tailored experiences designed to match and exceed expectations.
International Game Technologies (IGT) is a multinational corporation in the gambling industry, publicly traded at the New York Stock Exchange. It was founded in London in 1990 and merged with US-based Gtech in 2006.
As of 2020, IGT operates in over 100 countries, employs over 12,000 people, and works with 11,000+ thousand suppliers worldwide.