Attitudes towards data in the igaming sector lag behind others in the entertainment industry, says Pallavi Deshmukh. It’s time for this to change
The need for data in igaming has never been greater but there remains a significant knowledge gap when it comes to creating tools to capture and handle this data and so lead to actionable insights. According to Pallavi Deshmukh, CEO at NetGaming, data can impact not only the way games are promoted but also how they are developed. There is still a high demand for games but increased volume means their shelf life is decreasing. Plus, increased regulation and alternative entertainment options take away from hours spent on gambling online. These challenges present a real opportunity for personalisation and customisation. Without data, though, these activities are but a pipe dream. The biggest entertainment companies, YouTube and Netflix in particular, are seasoned professionals at this by now. Deshmukh sees this laid-back attitude towards data as a teething issue following the industry’s accelerated growth. “Initially, a basic level of data analysis helped businesses grow,” she explains. “Online gaming was still new and organisations were happy with the growth rate. They didn’t face the difficulties we are facing now with player preferences changing at a fast pace. Because of this, best practices and systems for data capture weren’t put in place.” Additionally, there are many catchable data fields that weren’t possible in the past. Fifteen years ago, it wasn’t easy to trace a player’s journey, their behaviour and preferences; now it can be done seamlessly. Take one study from KTH Royal Institute of Technology School of Engineering Sciences: using 24 hours of data on player behaviour, a machine-learning algorithm achieved 75.94% accuracy in predicting customer churn. According to Deshmukh, collecting the “right data” should now be the focus. This could be anything from financial and gaming transactions to player journeys and where they click in-game, all of which can lead to developing and marketing better games. Based on her research, most content providers still aren’t capturing that granularity of data. Furthermore, Deshmukh says basing data systems around certain KPIs and building flexibility for open systems with broader data management capabilities is important. Part of NetGaming’s product development strategy has been focused around ensuring systems are flexibility-first for data capture and anticipating changes ahead of the curve. Business needs and tech capabilities can be varied and ensuring APIs are system agnostic can allow a customisable and flexible approach. The final challenge as Deshmukh sees it is in making data user-friendly and understandable. “Situations can happen where CRM, marketing and commercial teams can’t take action on the data they’re given,” she says. “Companies spend millions on a solution and can’t use it. You need to have the right data analysis, API and end-to-end solutions, keeping the customer at the forefront of it all.” The lesson, then, becomes this: the best data is actionable data. Pallavi Deshmukh is the CEO of NetGaming. Pallavi has been in the industrym for more than 15 years, starting her career at PartyGaming as affiliate operations manager. She also headed up the PartyPoker affiliate team before switching to the B2B sector in 2011, where she managed the launch of Danske Spil. In 2015 she moved to New Jersey to manage Borgata Casino and monitor potential regulations in other US states before moving to Malta in 2016 with NetEnt and finally back to London in 2018 to start NetGaming.