A business should never focus on anything unless they believe they can do it better than everyone else, said Simon Lidzén (pictured), CEO for iGaming engagement platform provider Fast Track.
We spoke to him about working with the right third party solutions to meet different business needs, how automation can make iGaming operators less vulnerable to financial penalties and why choosing to ‘insource’ player engagement has left central teams “feeling the pain” from both compliance obstacles and the drawbacks of legacy software.
SBC: Fast Track is focused on solving operational challenges to help operators achieve efficiency and achieve their goals for player engagement. Why do you think it’s important for operators to work with technology partners like Fast Track?
SL: Operational scalability ultimately drills down to the best use of time and the ability to achieve your goals quicker than the competition. To maintain a clear focus and keep a solid pace, you need to get rid of all the obstacles around you so that you can focus on the task at hand without getting distracted.
A business should never focus on anything unless they believe they can do it better than everyone else. Operators should have trusted partners that they can hand over to in areas where they are not experts and don’t have the resources to create a better solution than what already exists. Game providers are an obvious example of this, but most businesses are using multiple third party solutions to meet different business needs.
In our case, we act as a partner for managing automated, omnichannel, real-time engagement. At a minimum, this relieves the burden of manual, operational tasks that get in the way of CRM (or engagement) teams spending time on creative planning, testing and improvement. What we have experienced is that this has a much wider impact on most businesses, with data, customer support, tech and other teams also benefiting from the centralised management of engagement.
SBC: When it comes to running a coordinated strategy for player engagement, how much are legacy systems holding operators back?
SL: An awful lot! The reality is that many of our systems end up being used in a completely different way than what they were originally designed for.
This industry has been evolving so fast, and there has been a constant focus on adding new capabilities at pace to keep up with competitors. With the focus always on new capabilities, usability and process have been largely ignored. In other words, most businesses have been looking mainly at what they do and not how they do it.
Player engagement is also often insourced to a central team maintaining multiple markets and regulations. They are feeling the pain. The product team adds new capabilities, the compliance team adds more obstacles, and as a department you quickly find yourself being coordinators rather than curators. We need the right software; tools designed to ease this burden.
SBC: Ironically, have the drawbacks of legacy software brought us to a point where operators are forced to work with more third party providers and more integrated systems, which actually increases the level of inefficiency regardless of how innovative any new software might be?
SL: Working with third parties is absolutely essential to our success. With the degree and speed of innovation right now, it would be impossible to keep up if we were doing everything ourselves.
We rely on partnerships to solve problems, and this should not be seen as a negative or something that is “forced” upon us: it is incredibly positive. It allows us to keep focus on what actually matters to our business. If these platforms are not tightly integrated, however, it can cause massive paint points to the process. Fast Track has very consciously decided to provide platforms to help you scale; we help you work in the right way.
SBC: How well equipped is Fast Track to become a ‘central orchestrator’ for an operator’s complete player engagement strategy?
SL: The key to a successful partnership is a shared vision. This is something that we do not compromise on and plays a big role in why we have such successful partnerships to date. Fast Track can identify and understand operational challenges because we have experienced them first hand, and our partners recognise this. We are also completely transparent and operate in an open way; we believe in collaborating and sharing, not protecting.
As an organisation, we are very vocal about how we see the industry. We believe the recipe for operational scalability is made up of real-time data, working from one central system, and having the right process. We believe no two brands are the same, and so provide an open platform that can be tailored to our partners’ needs.
This includes working with the tools and channels of their choice. We only invest in solving a problem when we know we can do it better than anyone else, not simply for the commercial opportunity.
This is why we integrate with Alliance partners; domain experts who can solve specific problems. It works incredibly well and enables operators to manage all aspects of their engagement from within the Fast Track platform.
SBC: Working exclusively for iGaming operators, this means you have your entire organisation focused on the needs and challenges of this industry specifically. What benefits does this give you?
SL: That is correct, and we believe this particular focus is completely necessary to be successful. iGaming is so different from any other industry, and whilst real-time data and central orchestration unlock a wide range of capabilities, the most important aspect as you scale is the process. Working with multiple regulatory requirements, products, markets, languages and channels must not become an obstacle.
Fast Track eliminates any hurdles and makes the process lean. Another benefit is that thanks to our Alliance partners, one integration to Fast Track will connect you to the iGaming network: all the tools you need to orchestrate a successful engagement strategy.
SBC: Compliance is a key concern for operators in terms of player engagement, especially when working across multiple markets. Do you think automation can make operators less vulnerable to regulatory penalties?
SL: The execution process is very fragile, and this is a big problem. Within many operators, player engagement is still managed and executed in a very manual way. This leaves a lot of space for human error. There are regulatory guidelines in how we write our content, who we target, what offers we are allowed to use, and when we send the communication.
The list of policies has grown quite big over the last two years. We have been trying to cope the best we can; creating new manual checks at different points in the process. This is not sustainable for businesses.
Fast Track is tackling this in three ways currently: 1) Process: we have approval workflows built into the system so that you can have compliance checks as part of the process. 2) We have built an environment where it is easy to automate player engagement. 3) Regulatory safeguards: regulatory policies are built into the software, and prevent the end-user from making any mistakes.
You can automate a great number of tasks; from instantly blocking self-excluded players from receiving communications, to ensuring the relevant terms and conditions for the recipient’s county are linked to SMS messages. The more automation you can introduce into your operational processes, the less vulnerable you will make yourself to penalties.
SBC: And finally, what is the next stage of the digital era for iGaming? What does the future hold for Fast Track?
SL: Machine learning is going to play a key role in enabling operators to scale more efficiently and in creating individual player experiences, therefore this is a key focus area for us in 2021. We are already working on a ground-breaking initiative that will make machine learning accessible to teams in a way it never has been done before.
Apart from that, we are always looking for ways we can do better and be better; we never get complacent. Our collection of partners will continue to be an invaluable source of feedback and the driving force behind a large portion of our development roadmap: solving their problems is what we do. If we continue to listen to them and keep focus on our vision, I am confident that Fast Track will continue to evolve.