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IN-DEPTH 3 February 2017
Data: The industry's new currency
Aleš Gornjec, Comtrade Group GM, explains why data is the industry’s new most valued commodity
By Gambling Insider

The most extensive question trending in the gaming industry is: "How can we drive business performance with player data?" Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, understood that data does not hold value without context and circumstance, stating: "The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight."

Customer data now outperforms its role as information that merely drives business forward. When we consider the necessity of gaming systems, software and platforms (the tools that are meant to capture player-based information), customer data then becomes the social and economic infrastructure of the modern information enterprise. With the amount of analytics and statistics that these platforms and systems store, a product with omnipotent capabilities needs to be able to motivate profit solutions through a customer-based data network.With this in mind, collecting user information is no longer enough to survive in a global information market. As trends evolve, operators must mature at a rate that is parallel to the speed at which players divulge their own user insights.

Big data is "big" because it has volume, velocity, variety and veracity. Because of this, customer information drives changes that fundamentally alter business standards to fit their individual needs and personal preferences. The multi-channel experience is now the personifacation of it's user, having advanced from mass-market campaigns (though not quite to the space of one-on-one personalisation efforts). Player-centric platforms, such as Comtrade Gaming's iCore, recognise and sleekly record activity, compartmentalise diverse user preferences and respond intelligently to their anomalies and individual behaviours.

It is through these specific platform data collection mechanisms that players themselves unlock business value. The concept of co-creating value through the "customer experience" is a method by which operators and vendors maintain competitive advantage. Since the aforementioned user journey is now a starting point (versus a by-product of company-centric activities), the data that is collected through platforms and systems essentially compiles new strategic capital. For example, customer profiles that are created through platform data sets create richer customer experiences and longitudinal insights are a development tactic for acquisition, retention and customer relationship management.

Market strategies simultaneously demand acquisition and retention – a dynamic push and pull of business priorities. While it is future-oriented, the paradox is that the information is fleeting and momentary. The digital business ecosystem is a move toward shared visions, where the business and customer align their interests. This cognitive technology is what comprises valuable platforms and should be the only ones to invest in to provide reliable, actionable results. The practicality of storing and tracking player data is what defines its value. It is what highlights correlated behaviours, causation between actions, interpretation and analysis to a significant level. Because every form of collected data is quantifiable, it is therefore always actionable and applied analytics becomes the conduit of finding new sources of revenue.

To place less emphasis on platforms is to deny their ability to increase market share, drive the bottom-line, increase customer loyalty, brand operations and metamorphosise businesses. The end-game to a data-driven business is not optimisation nor monetisation, but a transformative property that ensures its sustainability from its symbiotic relationships.

Platform-collected information envelops behavioural data, descriptive attributes, interactions and attitudinal preferences.

This form of predictive player intelligence supports and literally defines acquisition models, responses to campaigns, audience segmentation and player lifetime value. Through benchmarketing, trending and tracking, enterprise marketing can in turn focus on four of the main areas that attribute to the most dynamic benefits: market penetration (targeted strategies for bonusing), product development (mutli-channel experiences), market development and diversification (product extensions).

The only way to approach data collection is through customisable business intelligence systems. There is a belief that all data carries potential and platforms are the most efficient at capturing it all. The allure of big data is that now operations can identify connections between two variables. In this sense business becomes a science backed method of systematic observation, measurement, experiments. It is through this data evolution that operators will seek to incorporate predictive customer analytics – intuition built on machine learning through data collection. Decoding player patterns as »customer habits« means creating new revenue streams, offering tailored experiences and being one step ahead of the your competitor.

It is now accurate to say that data is emotional intelligence. At the end of the day, if platforms logically interpret and react to emotional responses, you will feed into customer desires, needs and interests and therefore, maintain their attention. Those that once considered data byproduct now see that it is the apex and base for strategic improvements.
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