2020 and 2021 gave rise to a myriad of challenges for the betting and gaming industry. But for many different companies, the past two years brought about new opportunities to experiment with innovative products for the online space.
Speaking to SBC News, Suren Khachatryan – Founder and CEO at Technamin – explains why the genie is now out of the bottle when it comes to creativity, before outlining some of the key ways that iGaming companies can future proof their businesses in 2022 and beyond.
SBC: How did operator preferences change during the pandemic, and how does that compare to today?
With other activities curtailed, the pandemic saw increased activity on the sites of iGaming operators. That new demand had to be catered for and, if they didn’t have them already, those operators required fast, easy-to-set up platforms, with a diverse range of games, all of which needed to be compatible with the latest technologies.
There was also a wave of land-based casino owners wanting to go online in order to retain their customers. For them, fast solutions were essential obviously, and in places like the US in particular the fruit of that labour has become very apparent very quickly.
Operators everywhere are now thinking about incorporating the latest technologies to stay ahead of the game, such as crypto and NFTs. I think that trend will continue well into the future as they look to future proof their businesses with the right supplier solutions. More operators who were previously land-based only will also feel the need to have a tailored online presence.
SBC: How did players interact with their games during lockdowns, compared to now?
As well as an influx of players, the online industry saw an increase in those trying new products. Given the time many had on their hands that’s perhaps no surprise, but what it did highlight was the need for a broad portfolio of games and game types. Sportsbooks deprived of live mainstream sports action had to find alternatives among less popular sports, or bolster their virtual sports offering. Casinos needed new slots and live dealer experiences.
Many players that found iGaming in lockdown were new to it, yet they were no less demanding when it came to using payment providers they were familiar with, simple sign-ups and intuitive customer journeys, not to mention well-run customer service. Their game experiences had to be entertaining, immersive and engaging or they went elsewhere.
I think we will look back on this time as a positive one for the industry, in which suppliers and operators really raised their game when it came to the provision and presentation of their products. The genie will not be put back in the bottle!
SBC: Was the shift to online heavily influenced by lockdowns, or was it inevitable?
We have been going digital in almost every aspect of our lives for some time now, so the shift online certainly follows a distinct direction of travel. Were we expecting it to happen this fast and this suddenly? Certainly not. Did the lockdowns direct players old and new towards online marketplaces? Definitely. It would have happened regardless, albeit over a longer period of time, but the speed up of change has brought with it innovation and much needed change. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.
SBC: Has last year’s trend of a huge shift to online continued through to today?
It certainly has. Even with physical locations opening up as vaccinations increase and lockdowns ease, the online market is thriving. In fact, many land-based casinos are continuing to operate their online counterparts as people seem to have nestled into their online comfort zones.
With more tech such as crypto and NFTs being incorporated into traditional iGaming, I think this is a trend that will most likely stay in the long run and only grow from there. Operators need to make sure they are equipped with the right platform and products to ensure they can meet demand and keep up with technologies.
SBC: How important would you say the omnichannel experience is today, compared with 12 months ago?
Today’s customers expect an omnichannel experience as a matter of course. The events of the past year have simply served to highlight that. You cannot just have a desktop version of your online casino, or even an online store. You have to provide the same experience for customers over multiple platforms and channels to ensure players can pick and choose.
Research shows that mobile devices are now used more than ever before, so it’s essential to provide a seamless experience on them, just as it is important to provide the same experience on desktop. Customers are also keen on having the option of switching between devices when needed without affecting the gaming experience. This is also partly why we have taken a mobile-first approach to our solutions at Technamin.
SBC: How do Technamin’s solutions address the needs of the industry, both in and out of lockdown?
We like to look at challenges as opportunities at Technamin. When the first lockdown happened, we strove to create experiences that would be just as fulfilling online as they were offline. We quickly jumped on trends such as cryptos and NFTs, creating unique solutions which operators could use to offer unique experiences to their customers. All of our solutions are designed to make the best of every situation, in this case the lockdowns and the pandemic.
SBC: How did Technamin address lockdown restrictions initially, and how would you address them now if we were to see further restrictions?
There were various aspects of the lockdown that we had to address. Bearing in mind that we had just started when everything shut down, we were faced with a real variety of issues. Our employees not being able to physically come to the office and some even stuck abroad were big challenges that we navigated around using state of the art employee interaction technology.
Against all odds, we managed to overcome team-building issues and grew exponentially as a company in a lockdown, much to our own surprise. We then focused on the solutions which we had to offer. The way we built Technamin’s infrastructure to be always-on, allowed us to produce fast results with zero downtime which were exactly what our partners were looking for. Should there be further lockdowns, our solution guns are drawn and we are fully equipped to handle them. Hopefully that day won’t come, but if it does, we know just how to tackle it.