Lecture at EL/WLA Sports Betting Seminar

Last week, the annual EL/WLA Sports Betting Seminar took place in Marrakesh, Morocco. Betware got the opportunity to speak and I did a lecture titled Opportunity knocks… The talk was about the shift to digital products and how lotteries can use this opportunity to innovate. As the net-gen is growing up and as older generations are turning to the Internet for social networks, TV, and games, this is too important of a trend to be ignored. The internet and the mobile is where the innovations will be in the future.

As result the market is converging. We are seeing gaming companies and igaming companies (primarily offering sports betting, Poker and casino games), converging or partnering. We are also starting to see traditional lotteries partnering with game providers in order to offer more games. This is likely to continue, and even more so if liberalization of traditional lottery products, like sports betting, continues.

Part of the talk was about social games and in particular social sports betting. It turns out that sport betting is very social activity and the lotteries have the perfect opportunity to use this fact to promote their products and sell tickets.

Of course I also talked about mobile and how the iPhone changed the mobile landscape. An interesting fact is that people with iPhone only spend 45% of their time using voice. This should say something about apps and browsing on a phone. One point I like to make is that there is only one web, even if we talk about mobile web. It is important to understand that the technology is the same for smart phones browsers as for desktop browsers. We should think more of how to optimize for different screen sizes than focusing on building a specific separate „mobile channel“.

An interesting trend with mobile is that there will be more mobile devices accessing the Internet in few years than computers. A fact that is hard to ignore.

The basic conclusion was that socializing the sports betting experience is an opportunity for lotteries, as well as the current mobile renaissance.

Slides are here:

Game Development in an Distributed Environment

Recently I did a presentation on software development in distributed environment. Since Betware has six offices around the world with twelve teams we need to manage distributed teams. Our PMO has good experience in dealing with teams where the members are located in different offices and timezones. We have found out what works and what doesn’t. But, at the end of the day, the best rule is this: don’t distribute your teams.

In the era of constant connectivity you might think that its ridiculous to worry about management of distributed teams. In fact, we exchange information in real-time. We can have text, audio and video in real-time. And that is exactly what we do. We deploy an IP phone station that links every employee’s computer (with speaker headset) within the company. Meeting rooms have speakerphones and cameras. With Microsoft Communicator or TeamView we can share desktops.

But in the end nothing works better than just sitting down with your coworkers and going over the details. Face to face communications. If you think about agile software methodologies the key is high communication bandwidth. Indeed, the important thing about development is the communications. This is the same with software architectures: don’t distribute you objects. Network latency will kill performance. For teams the same applies for communication.

Of course for practical reasons, it is not always possible to stick with a team in one location. There might be expertise required that is not possessed within the team in one location. The team in one place might not be enough and more team members from other locations need to help. Whatever the reasons, we always have some distribution and remote communication. Just like with distributed architecture, you need to choose your boundaries carefully. What we try to do at Betware is to define “project silos” that are subprojects with in projects. By defining the subproject carefully you can control the communication boundaries.

Communication technologies will improve, and more importantly people’s comfort level of remote communication will rise. Eventually remote or virtual communication will become better then the real world. Until then, don’t distribute your team.