Natalie Billingham joined Akamai in 2007 and initially worked in its media sales team covering UKI and Scandinavia. In 2016, she became divisional VP for EMEA Media. Natalie is responsible for ensuring all of the EMEA Media team focus on customer excellence to create, build and maintain longstanding partnerships. She is also one of the founder members of Akamai’s EMEA Women’s Forum.
The first wave of digital transformation for the gambling world brought with it new opportunity and prosperity for the industry, but increasing pressure from consumers and regulators may be leading towards a second wave of transformation.
This view forms the foundation of a recent white paper from Akamai, who provide an intelligent edge platform for securing and delivering digital experiences. The white paper, titled “Digital Transformation V2.0”, presents some of the company’s views and expectations for digital transformation in the igaming industry.
Challenges and opportunities
With the constantly evolving state of the industry, Akamai identifies several areas of interest that it feels represent the biggest challenges and opportunities in igaming over the coming years.
Top of the list, unsurprisingly, are uncertain regulatory environments. Despite positive developments across the US and Europe in recent months with FOBT and skins betting regulations being enacted, Akamai identifies that igaming businesses may face difficulty meeting the need for fast implementation and changing restrictions while also maintaining competitive advantage and speed.
“It’s often said that you have to speculate to accumulate – and when you’re trying to move into newly deregulated markets or take advantage of new technologies, that’s certainly true,” says Natalie Billingham, VP Media, EMEA at Akamai. “But you want to minimise the risk without minimising the opportunity. Working with a partner that allows you to expand into new territories using an existing platform, or that enables you to deploy new technologies ‘as a service’, means you can scale affordably without all the associated risks”.
The white paper also notes record levels of M&A activity in the industry, further exemplifying why flexibility is crucial. To merge firms, enterprise systems, online platforms and security systems quickly, Akamai suggests a consolidated platform to provide the necessary delivery and security features.
As well as the growing number of accessible markets, new products and enabling technologies are also emerging, such as social gambling and esports betting, which Akamai identifies as an opportunity to grow audiences. New technologies to capitalise on these markets and products, such as APIs or low-latency live streaming, present opportunities for operators, so long as the technological support underpinning them is strong enough to see the returns.
Finally, Akamai discusses how the industry must cut through the hype surrounding disruptive technologies such as AI and blockchain to ensure the use cases can be realised.
The white paper also touches on the challenges of increasing competition; especially as new, nontraditional players join the fold. Akamai’s view is that these new competitors will come from three sources – pure online play, adjacent markets and new products such as esports.
“A new type of competitor can require a new type of approach if you want to stay ahead of the pack,” says Billingham. “Pure online players can grow quickly or take advantage of a grey-market position, and social gambling firms can use their broad base of non-cash gamblers to market to. Even esports companies are getting in on the act, offering spectators the ability to bet on the outcomes of events. If traditional gambling companies are only thinking about their traditional competitors, they might not see the real threats to their businesses.”
In the face of these three emerging competitor groups, there is a need to ensure compelling and competitive online services compliant to regulations, capitalising on the technology while ensuring a sustainable and scalable business model.
With all of these developments shifting the way the gambling industry views itself and its business, Akamai sees success for those that leverage new digital platforms to evolve their operations, ensuring the pillars of security, high-quality and speed are kept at the forefront.
To hear more from Akamai, register now for our upcoming webinar, where Tim Vereecke, web performance architect, EMEA, at Akamai Technologies will discuss how real user and performance monitoring can serve to improve customer experiences in modern HTML5 games.