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IN-DEPTH 30 March 2016
DEQ interview: Joe Bertolone
Joe Bertolone, CEO of provider DEQ, takes on our challenge of predicting the future of the gaming industry
By Gareth Bracken

My biggest motivation at work is...
Building out our team and seeing the results of our hard work. Over the last year we’ve focused on bringing together a group of gaming professionals that will position DEQ for growth. Combining DEQ's seasoned veterans with our new executive team and seeing the group gel is a great thing to watch. Sharing our new vision of DEQ with our customers, investors and stakeholders and then guiding our executive team through the execution of our plan is the real motivation. For me, it always comes down to the people and the results. This is ultimately what will drive the success of our company.

Innovation in gaming is...
Iterative. It happens in little steps. I’ve spent the last 20 years watching the most successful, innovative technological products and solutions come from small tweaks and changes that end up gaining steam over time and revolutionising the gaming floor. For the most part, innovation does not happen quickly. This industry is very pragmatic – innovation needs to be directly tied to revenue or it doesn’t survive. Too often we tie the concept of innovation to technology, and that’s not always the case. Great innovation comes in many different forms. Our focus at DEQ is to find those changes – technology or other – and turn them into truly meaningful and accretive products and solutions, some based on technology, some on process and most importantly great games.

The gaming industry needs to become...
Less focused on finding the magic bullet to capture the next generational customer. The supplier segment in particular loses sight of the vast differences in the customers of each gaming region. There is a tendency to try and standardise and build products and solutions that work for all markets and particular customer segments. It’s in the DNA of this industry for some reason. Everyone talks about and uses technology on a daily basis that speaks to exactly where the real focus should be. Instead of fixating on capturing generational customer sets, gaming will become a personalised experience, just like all other entertainment experiences. We now have the data and tools to make this a reality.

My favourite thing about my job is...
The diversity and engagement with operating a global company. Each region that we deal with is very diverse. North America is very different than Latin America and what may work in Asia does not necessarily work in all other domestic markets. Visiting with customers that are making a lot of money with our solutions in various regions really brings home our value and is a great thing to see.

A typical day at work for me is...
Never typical. Albeit a cliché answer, it’s entirely true. We can’t stand still. The only typical aspect of our day for the entire DEQ team is that we work incredibly hard. We have a great group of dedicated people that are focused on moving forward, jumping in where and when necessary to provide customer satisfaction.

The most surprising thing I learned in 2015 was...
The power of the brand. Having spent the bulk of my gaming career on the slot and operational side of the business, I am continually surprised at how much branding matters, from both a B2B and B2C perspective. That is to say there is a huge difference between marketing and branding. Although many profess to understand it, my experience has been that it’s very tricky. The power of the brand is often overlooked and undervalued by product companies in our space. It’s one thing to market, it’s another thing to effectively brand manage.

An industry trend I anticipate in 2016 is...
The evolution of the table. As I travel throughout the world and speak with players and customers it's clear that operators want refreshing ways to engage their players with a combination of touch technology and new operational technology. With the shift in the Asian markets to mass and premium mass players and the domestic markets focusing on the social aspects of their younger players, we see this as mirroring the same types of changes we’ve seen on the slot floors over the years. This is nothing brand new – rather it’s the right timing. With slot experiences going online and mobile, and the ETG push, tables and pits are going to move along this path as well.
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