Aleš Gornjec: The power of personalisation


Comtrade Gaming’s General Manager Aleš Gornjec shares his vision for the company, and discusses how machine learning can drive personalisation and transform the iGaming market

What was your background before taking on this directorship?

I joined Comtrade in 1996 (at the time it was HERMES Softlab) as a software developer and project manager. Throughout my career at Comtrade (and later Comtrade Gaming), I've been responsible for delivery operations, business development in the DACH region and product/project management. This naturally led to developing gaming product lines, brand development, business planning and sales strategies.

Now as General Manager, I am responsible for the company's business expansion. This includes exploring opportunities in emerging and established markets to support the company in maintain its reputation as a leading technology provider that bridges the gap between online and land-based gaming industries.

What are your strategic plans for Comtrade Gaming over the coming months and how does that fit with your longer term aims for the business?

As we negotiate new global entry points, Comtrade Gaming continues to anticipate regulator, operator and vendor needs and we adjust our involvement along their priorities.

Comtrade Gaming anticipates 2017 to be highly focused on managing customer prospects, refining our products and continued investments into strengthening our brand. We expect operators to continue to optimise their digital experience and gain deeper understanding into which players create business value. Comtrade Gaming is working intensely with regulators and operators to reinforce national priorities and also with vendors to create the modern gaming experience.

We believe that technology will play an even more important role in our client's operations in the future. Therefore, we are continuously improving and extending our products to be able to manage their needs.

How important is product localisation to your customers?

Gaming is conducted differently across the globe. Historically, jurisdictional requirements have influenced operators' offering, especially in times when only on premise – retail or casino – gaming existed. Since introduction of online gaming these differences have blurred slightly, but they still exist. Players prefer to play mobile or desktop games that they recognise from their favourite slot machines.

We have deployed our products with clients from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia and they all operate within the boundaries and demands of their local environments. Our products are therefore highly configurable and integrate local content suppliers to overcome this challenge.

Personalisation of the gaming experience is important for customer engagement and retention. How do Comtrade Gaming’s products support this?

We focus personalisation capabilities on two separate fronts: client needs and player demands. Operators and regulators look to invest in products that can be shaped to their individual standards and business priorities. The added value of gaming operations is first and foremost a unique and personalised gaming experience that builds on the relationship with a player.

Our Enterprise Gaming Platform, iCore, offers personalised architecture for customisable player experiences, including bonusing, marketing campaigns and content offers. Instead of focusing on mass-market sign-up bonuses, platforms such iCore divides bonuses based on particular stages in player lifecycle development to trigger or award particular behaviour. Personalised offers are provided based on segmented playing styles, allowing operators take a more relationship-based approach.

Successful operators will increasingly rely on venue reports and business intelligence which requires greater data collection and analysis capabilities

Our score Casino Management Systems and casino solutions are programmed along operator and regulator priorities. Our Server Based Gaming system offers unique game combinations to match venue-specific player demographics, permits open integration with independent software providers or can be built along system specifications and requirements. Ultimately, it enables the operator to curate game development cycles and new content to fit their player demographics.

Delivering this kind of personalised experience requires dealing with a significant amount of data. Is there any room for AI to support the analysis?

Since the digital transformation of the gaming market, big data works to attract, retain and extend player relationships. With this in mind, collecting user information is no longer enough to survive in a global information market. Big data effectively brought machine learning and cognitive technology to the forefront due to the complexity and amount of player information that operators need to manage. Currently, the industry is witnessing the first evolutionary steps in cognitive technology in the form of automated processes and machine learning. As innovation emerges, advanced systems and platforms will supplement industry knowledge and experience to increase product sophistication and player analysis.

Features such as content curation, bonus targeting and predictive customer service improve platform sophistication and offer further insight into player decisions. Following the player journey, we reach targeted marketing campaigns, including bonuses and loyalty programs. Alongside multi-level customer segmentation, the forthcoming generation of cognitive technology will experiment with product mix, recommendation engines and campaign variations. Platforms and systems will understand conversions and automate the marketing experience. The word “automation” will no longer be associated with uniformity, but strategy and modifications to meet individual player profiles.

How much room is there for innovation in land-based games?

Venue gaming will continue to evolve along three separate fronts: regulator guidelines, player preferences and the capabilities of leading technologies. Operators will always need to invest in comprehensive monitoring and gaming management systems to successfully operate. Not only this, but strong fraud prevention processes and central financial reporting will strengthen individual markets drive player confidence and regulator trust.

Successful operators will increasingly rely on venue reports and business intelligence which requires greater data collection and analysis capabilities. In order to meet specific demographic preferences, there will need to be a quicker design-to-market process with frequent feature adaptations to long-term player engagement.

When you’re one of the market leaders do you focus on innovation or on competitor analysis to stay ahead of the pack?

Our product success proves that you must keep your competitors close, but players closer. Competition naturally leads to innovation, but we differentiate ourselves through our technology capabilities and the way we can customise the customer experience. Because we focus on regulators, operator and vendors for both land-based and online markets, we have a comprehensive understanding as to how the industry will develop. The breadth of our business is what helps gain insight into individual markets and the priorities that each product demands.

Do you believe that there are any impending regulation changes that will affect Comtrade Gaming’s business?

Comtrade Gaming prides itself on operating only in regulated markets and we see the benefit in business when standards are predefind and enforced. We closely monitor regulatory activity and it ultimately serves as the foundation to the opportunites Comtrade Gaming pursues. Our casino management systems, gaming servers and online platforms balance the interests of business development with legal frameworks and player preferences. As new markets prepare for national strategies, Comtrade Gaming will continue to adjust its products along their guidelines.

Does Comtrade Gaming have any radical new projects in the pipeline?

The most pressing issue trending in the gaming industry is driving business performance with player data. Decoding player patterns means creating new revenue streams, offering tailored experiences and being one step ahead of the competitor. Currently, the industry is witnessing the first steps in cognitive technology in the form of automated processes and machine learning.

Comtrade Gaming sharpened its player data and business metrics capabilities to surpass standard features and unlock further business value. Our improved data strategy records and compiles additional user activity, segments preferences and intelligently responds to player profiles to continuously improve player life-cycles. Last but not least, we went even further with our player analytic capabilities to create multi-dimensional profiles to track preferences, financials and statistics. Our iCore platform responses will soon surpass the current “predictive” status and fall under intuitive programming.

This year we are introducing sCore 2.0, the product presentation will highlight the two-way communication that enables operators near real-time responses based on high-quality player data generated from gaming machine activity. The revamped G2S-enhanced Central Monitoring and Gaming Management Solutions can improve operations by creating advanced venue and terminal performance reports, analytical tools and remote optimisation possibilities, regardless of a distributed or classic casino environment.

Where do the opportunities lie for expansion into other geographic markets?

Italy, Japan and America all have dynamic markets that are developing in a way that will shape the future of gaming. We expect operators to optimise their digital experience and gain deeper understanding in the ways in which players drive business value. Comtrade Gaming is looking to work closely with regulators and operators with regards to national priority points and with vendors to build the modern gaming experience.
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