Mark Woollard of Pragmatic Solutions reflects on the company’s platform and the way in which they perform integrations for operators.
“Operators should closely consider which integrations are right for them, and whether the time scale provided for these integrations, by their current platform provider, is acceptable for an expanding business.”
EGR Intel (EGR): With the eGaming industry growing at such a rapid pace, what challenges will operators face for integrations?
Mark Woollard (MW): The industry is growing at pace and has been for a number of years. The main challenge which operators are increasingly facing is a bottleneck regarding the need for technical expertise and the availability of such persons to fulfill these requirements, including work on game integrations, platform integrations, and front- and back-end changes.
To ally with a platform who is capable of managing the various technical challenges being faced, or to work with a platform which has been built in such a way that integrations can be performed quickly and in a manner requiring minimal technical expertise, needs to be the way in which operators are moving.
Some operators have previously tried to keep everything in-house. The problem here, though, is that if the individuals involved in the configuration of a very specific piece of technology leave the company, or if there is a change in the company structure, the company may be left with a piece of technology that new people coming into the picture may not understand.
Therefore, I believe that the usage of third-parties is important to avoid any problems in transition of expertise, and to ensure that when operators want new integrations, they can perform them in an efficient manner. However, with so many possible different integrations, which can be performed across innumerable segments of the platform, operators should closely consider which integrations are right for them, and whether the time scale for their implementation is acceptable.
EGR: Are there some functions which will always be worth outsourcing than bringing in-house?
MW: At Pragmatic Solutions, we are of the opinion that individuals should work with a platform supplier whose sole focus is that platform. Some previous operators have tried to build their own platform — some successfully and others not – but oftentimes it becomes a challenge for them to self-manage their platform while also retaining control and management of their other business operations.
EGR: In 2019, what are the most common integrations being demanded?
MW: Game supplier integrations have been big for a while; after all, it’s critical for operators to try and ensure that the content available on their website is as good if not better than all the rest.
If a player can go to an operator which has 100 different content suppliers, they will invariably see that choice differentiation as being better than a content supplier with 30-40 offerings, so the overall breadth of offering is also an important consideration.
In the past few years, there have been a few standout suppliers who operators were keen to onboard and integrate very quickly. If a platform is not capable of onboarding a new supplier at the same pace as their competitors, they end up with a noticeable gap on their website.
Integration functionality is another key request for the back office and something which we are particularly dedicated and responsive to. The big question here is this: how do you segment and market to your players correctly and in a way that elicits a strong response? One operator’s website may send out one generic text to all the players in contrast to another that can properly segment their players and provide far more bespoke messages from the marketing team depending on the pedigree of the player, their habits, and preferences; there is a clear winner between the two.
EGR: How do you respond to newer demands for greater granularity regarding segmentation?
MW: We have expertise in-house for the segmentation tool we’ve built, so we are able to respond when we feel that the market is in need of an additional segment. At the moment, we have hundreds of different segments, from player age to how much they bet, how much they win, to how often they visit the site; there are literally hundreds of iterations and we can add these as and when an operator asks for them. The way in which we’ve built our tool also means that it changes don’t need a mass of new technical architecture; new segments can simply be added as they are requested.
EGR: What are the advantages of an API-based platform in modern gaming?
MW: Speed is the key factor. With an API-based platform, things can be built quicker than on legacy platforms – it’s one of the main reasons why all platforms are following an API based model, not just across gaming and gambling but across all sectors.
Another important factor is that our platform is modular-based. This means that when we want to make changes, we don’t have to go into the core source code. The design overall makes everything simpler and more efficient when making changes as and when, and integration times are much shorter, too. We can do an integration in 3-4 weeks – an infinitely quicker timespan compared to integrating with a legacy platform.
EGR: What other areas can technology assist with and what areas are you looking to develop further in 2019?
MW: Our model is client based but we don’t build things we think clients will want. We wait for them to request something specific from us first. For example, with AI tools we’ve received requests for specific tools to be integrated, which we will do. Instead of going out and building that AI tool ourselves, though, which isn’t our expertise, we’ll work with a client’s third party in order to help integrate this for a client, and do the same if it’s something the client has built themselves.
The technology of the core platform and the best part of it is again the way in which is it built, because we can work with third-party products as well, and on the product side we can integrate other products from around the market, whatever they may be, and don’t solely focus on building out our own ‘home’ products.
Mark Woollard is business development director at Pragmatic Solutions. His experience spans all forms of gambling and gaming, from online, social casino, land-based and lotteries through to casual gaming. Mark was also chairman of the board at the gaming platform Playzido, where he helped guide the company in business, licensing and corporate strategy. Mark’s role sees him drive business growth across current clients while also looking to onboard new ones.