Alan Aquilina: Why technological innovation is key to Singular’s sports betting success

When it comes to standing out in a saturated market, standout technologies and constant innovation go hand in hand according to Singular’s newest recruit, Alan Aquilina.

Aquilina was recently named as the new Head of the Sports Betting Platform at Singular – a role which will see him take responsibility for both the development of the supplier’s proprietary sports betting platform as well as strengthening Singular’s position on the global stage.

Following his appointment, Aquilina spoke with SBC News to discuss his journey through the iGaming industry, the importance of technological innovation at Singular and the bounce back of sports betting activity in 2021.

SBC: Firstly, congratulations on your new role! What is it that prompted you to join Singular?

AA: Thank you. There were many aspects of Singular that drew my interest, from the company’s strong technical foundation to its impressive client portfolio, I saw Singular as a perfect place for me to grow further. But the decisive moment for me was when I met one of Singular’s co-founders and Chief Operating Officer, Akaki Meladze. He spoke with such passion and drive about the company, its beginnings, the initial idea, and future vision that got me hooked. 

Moreover, as Head of the Sports Betting Platform, I have the opportunity to move more towards the business side of things.  In my previous roles, I was mainly on the tech side, but at the same time working very closely with the business and the product. Here vice-versa – I moved closer to the business side, albeit working very closely with tech.

SBC: How will your prior experience in the industry help strengthen Singular’s position on the global stage?

AA: One thing that I carry with me as I join a new team or company is the mantra Customer First.  Being a B2B Sports Betting (SB) supplier, we have three different kinds of customers, for whom we have to cater.  First, the punter, then the bookie, and last, but definitely not least, the SB B2C operational team.  Each category has specific requirements and expectations. 

In order to grow, a quality SB supplier must address the needs of each group. In other words, we must implement a culture of working closely with the client to deliver the best possible products for their unique markets. Additionally, the increased regulation of new markets is a reality nowadays that we cannot ignore. I have experience in helping brands to launch in multiple jurisdictions  that will be beneficial for Singular in its position.

As previously mentioned, my previous experience was more leaning towards the tech side of the business. In my thirteen years of experience in the iGaming industry, I had the opportunity to work with some of the best tech people.  

Having a solid technical background is crucial for a position like this one and I am truly thankful to my previous colleagues for their selfless sharing of knowledge in this area. I am sure that combining my previous experience with the skills and knowledge of the capable tech team at Singular will accelerate Singular’s global growth.

SBC: Technological innovation has previously been lauded as a key component for Singular’s growth momentum. Can you give us a sneak peak of any innovations you may be launching to gain market advantage around the world?

AA: It goes without saying that in order to survive, you need to innovate. Technical innovation is of particular importance to me mainly because it is the biggest motivational source for tech people.  And, with a motivated team, there are no limits. So everyone benefits from innovation – the product, the customer, the company, and the team.

And to innovate, the team must have some key traits – creativity, diversity, knowledge, and motivation. In my short tenure at the company, I have seen them all in the Singular team.  I am sure that we will accomplish great things together. 

At the moment we are all geared up towards the Euro and wouldn’t want to disclose any releases beforehand. What I can say is that Singular has used 2020 as the year to reflect and refine the already powerful SB solution and has some game-changing features in the roadmap that will bring player experience to the next level. We are expecting 2021 to be the year when we capitalise on these.

SBC: What do you anticipate as being the biggest challenges in your new role, and how will you overcome them?

AA: In order to be successful, everyone must work together in an aligned way.  I always like to bring up the analogy of people rowing in different directions who do twice the work and get nowhere.  Success comes when each team and every team member starts working towards the same goal. This can sometimes be a challenge, but once people start seeing the results, it continues naturally.

Finally, the challenge for everyone in the industry is undoubtedly the time to market. Whoever gets there first and being a B2B, being able to launch a new client as quickly as possible gives us that competitive advantage over other suppliers. Fast adaptation to different jurisdictional requirements is one of Singular’s strong suits. 

We already have a process at Singular that has proven efficient and effective. But it is of utter importance that this process is constantly reviewed to remove any bottlenecks, and repeat.    

SBC: And finally, the sports betting sector has faced a number of challenges over the last year. What do you think lies ahead for the industry in the next 12 months? Will we see a bounce back of sports betting activity now that sporting events have largely resumed, albeit without fans?

AA: Deeming 2020 a bad year is an understatement, with particular emphasis on Q2 when 99% of sports events stopped. I think the industry adapted well to the situation where possible.  Focus shifted to noncontact sports and virtuals, which reminded everyone of the importance of a diverse product portfolio. 

However, I think this storm is weathered, and in my opinion, the road to recovery has started.  Having the fans staying at home combined with lockdowns has increased the viewership across countries. This is an opportunity for the operators to channel their marketing in this area with great care to responsible gambling.

The suspension of the leagues last year meant that now we will have 30+ consecutive months of major sports events culminating with the world cup in Qatar. So yes, I am sure there is already a bounce back and the opportunities for the bounce to be even higher are there. One just needs to grab the opportunity and make the best out of it.  

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