Far from just a front-end tweak or an exercise in staff reduction, implementing a true Artificial Intelligence strategy means turning the status quo of customer interactivity inside out. John O’Malia, CEO and founder of Vaix.ai, believes the early adopters of deep data and personalisation strategies will see immediate positive upticks in both acquisition and retention.
While artificial intelligence presents an ever-expanding opportunity for sports-betting and gaming businesses – impacting on everything from administrative processes to game design – the department where it has so far found its most natural fit is marketing.
This has arisen from the fact that, as rich data becomes a mainstay of customer-relationship management, many operators now have more data than they know how to handle. According to experts, this where artificial intelligence comes in: faced with a pool of customer data that PhD quantitative analysts would struggle with, a well-built AI can identify core behavioural patterns and act on them.
Speaking at EiG this October, John O’Malia, CEO and co-founder of artificial-intelligence solutions provider Vaix.ai, said that the technology represented a revolution in terms of how companies interact with customers. Getting started in AI could be difficult, he said, but operators could find an easier way in by picking out the most data-heavy sections of the business that could immediately benefit from the implementation of AI technology.
“The number one thing is looking for data-rich segments and capitalising on those, because the first couple of things you do are going to have the strongest impact on your players,” he explained. “So, you could look at personalisation for a start, because every time that player uses your website, they are affected by how closely you match their needs – whereas the CRM loop is going to be something that they may hit every month or so. You need to look for the most impactful sectors.”
While O’Malia’s firm now offers customer-activation services to a wide range of online businesses, the entrepreneur has a wealth of experience in the gaming sector, having previously founded Trident Gaming and spread-betting firm IndexTrade, as well as serving as managing director of PartyGaming between 2007 and 2009.
Discussing the impact of artificial intelligence and tech innovation on the betting industry as a whole, O’Malia said that the link between betting-related content and the betslip were likely to become ever closer – and that personalisation would remain a cornerstone of CRM strategies for the future.
“We see our kind of personalisation drive kind of merging in with improved content provision, so you capture the relevant information for each player and you tailor it to them, and then all of a sudden you’ve got a product that feels really personal, and feels super compelling, but isn’t spamming you all the time,” he revealed.
“As we get deeper and deeper both into the content provision and the content enhancement side that a company like Stratagem do so well, and you merge that with personalisation, and any given book that has that combination of content and personalisation, is going to feel super intuitive and close to the player.”
Commenting on the current state-of-play in the gaming industry, he added: “I think there’s so much to be done. I think this industry has innovated a bunch of different times – the move to mobile, and so on – and now this is clearly the next big wave, right here. It’s not a big secret that AI is going to transform the way people interact with our players. You’ve got this increasing trend towards the fact that the high-end events are often now the most watched, so you’ve got to capture value around those and capture that entertainment value and channel it.”
According to O’Malia, recognition of the potential benefits of artificial intelligence and understanding of the product has accelerated rapidly in the industry over the past twelves months. When O’Malia initially founded his business and began offering AI-driven personalisation services to gaming firms, he says he was met with the attitude that people AI was something to think about ‘in the future’. Now, he says, he is often approached by people who feel that they have missed the boat and are daunted by the prospect of trying to implement the technology as quickly as possible.
To make the process manageable, the AI entrepreneur recommended beginning with a test in one of the most data-heavy segments of the business, and monitoring the results from there.
“Get started because at the end of the day, the people who experiment with this are going to develop an edge, and that edge is going to be sustainable,” he said. “If you’re one of these big companies and you’re an early mover into, say, personalisation, and you increase your yield by 10% on a per-player basis. Guess what? That’s a massive competitive advantage vis-a-vis the rest of the market. Because you haven’t paid more for that player but you’re holding onto them for longer and you’re generating more cash flow – so now you’ve got competitive advantage in M&A.”