Tech & innovation

Back to the Futures

4 minutes read
Developments since the publication of the first iGB Futures Survey in February dictate the findings be seen differently in terms of their potential to disrupt and shape the future of the industry, writes Josephine Watson

iGB’s first Futures survey, published in February 2020, explored how key disruptive technologies – AI, blockchain, AR/VR, Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing – might influence the future of the industry.

The results saw respondents overwhelmingly express excitement for the opportunities in AI, in particular its suitability for personalisation. With 62.26% voting for AI/ML for personalisation as the most immediately transformative technology for the igaming industry, it appeared that this use case was, as one respondent put it, “low-hanging fruit” that operators can easily implement. 

Intrigue around blockchain and AR/VR was also, perhaps predictably, high, although the use cases for these were limited at best, according to respondents. For example, only 28.3% backed AR/VR as an immediately transformative tech, with naysayers citing the lack of accessibility to necessary devices as a blocker to progress.

In a similar vein, 50.94% of survey participants felt that the industry lacks understanding of blockchain as a technology, as well as its application in igaming. Evangelists continue to insist that cryptocurrencies will be the norm in years to come, but the technology was divisive at best in our results from 2020. 

IoT and edge computing fell somewhat by the wayside, meanwhile, largely due to the fact that their immediate impact was minimal.

A major thread of our questioning surrounded the nature of innovation – who is responsible for driving it, and where the industry expects it will come from. It was a close race between the tech giants and start-ups, with 37.4% of respondents opting for the former and 30.19% the latter.  

In the few months since the publication of our inaugural survey, the face of the industry, and indeed the world, has changed dramatically. So, has this impacted the priorities and use cases when it comes to technology?

For example, a recently published report on emerging technology based on survey findings by RELX highlights significant growth in the use of AI across the various industries surveyed, increasing by 33 percentage points since 2018. More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) stated their investment in AI technology had increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Although gambling was not a focus of this survey, it’s easy to see how rapid developments in the capabilities and usage of this technology could inspire greater deployment in the industry. For instance, the report demonstrated a significant increase in AI’s usage for personalisation, retention and fraud detection – all highly relevant pain points for the gambling sector.

AR/VR, in another vein, has had a more tumultuous time in 2020. On the one hand, wide scale supply chain disruptions and a focus on cash preservation in both corporate and commercial settings has made the immediate outlook for the technologies more bleak, according to research from IDC. However, in terms of public perception, global lockdowns have progressed the narrative around VR/AR beyond gimmicks, creating a variety of use cases across industries.

Whether it’s from remote working, the sad reality of redundancies and a resulting need for optimising work processes or shifting market priorities, we want to understand how – and why – the industry is using disruptive technology, and the role it will play in the recovery phase. 

This year, we have expanded the survey’s scope to include technology provision and M&A, and to delve deeper into facilitating the change. 

Plus, with a shift in priorities towards a more digital world, the jury is out on what now holds the most importance. For instance, we could see a surge of interest in the previously less immediate technologies such as AR/VR, IoT and edge computing. 

The survey and subsequent report will play a crucial role in the roll-out of an exciting new initiative: the ICE Futures week. Held in February across the dates normally reserved for ICE, the industry’s biggest gathering of bright minds, Clarion Gaming and iGB come together to produce a multimedia, multichannel experience discussing what the future may hold on the road to ICE. 

It’s not just technology that we’ll be covering: ICE Futures will include everything from industry predictions to emerging markets and the start-up scene. 

With that, why don’t you help us kick off ICE Futures week by letting us know what you think is more disruptive: a global pandemic or new technologies?
Photo by Bruno Thethe from Pexels