Paul’s Wall January 15
Lots of positive feedback on last week’s blog stressing the primary importance of operational issues that can make a difference to performance and results right now. There are countless rubber-hits-the-road issues that we can actually do something about now. We won’t diminish our coverage of the big-picture issues of public and regulatory policy, management structure, i-gaming, and the like – just elevating the importance of details of implementation that form the real foundation for lottery success at delivering increased funds to their beneficiary this quarter and this year. It’ll take me a couple of weeks to ramp up, so I’ll thank you in advance for patience.
The next issue of the magazine does get us started down this path. For instance, we focus on the need to create alignment between our land-based retailer partners and lottery’s broad long-term strategic objectives that include a diversity of new non-traditional POS’s and digital media initiatives. I do not always have faith in the potential for open-ended communication to overcome differences in opinion, or to resolve business conflicts. But my recent interviews are revealing great potential for just that when it comes to getting retailers to understand how their interests align with efforts to expand the player base and attract new consumer groups to lottery. Transparency and full-disclosure engenders confidence and trust. It also telegraphs a sense of purpose that commands respect and the measured response that it’s better to get out in front of inevitable consumer trends than to fight them. Land-based retailers are the backbone of lottery distribution and that won’t change. But for the long-term success of both lottery and retailer, the channel strategy can’t be defined by a resistance to progress and the inevitable trends that drive consumer behavior and the adaptation of a dynamic market-place. We’ll be tracking this issue with in-depth case-study intensity.
Another problem challenging all businesses today is described in the Harvard Business Review cover feature “Getting Control of BIG DATA”. We’re drowning in data and the tools to convert it into applicable business intelligence are not adequate. Part of the answer is obviously that no amount of data can eliminate uncertainty about the future. And decisions to innovate need to be made in spite of uncertainty. The good news is that this conundrum is widely recognized and given rise to much recent progress in the science of analytics (“the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data”). Data analysis is just the basic research aspect of the puzzle. Converting analyses into insights that recommend action and guide decision making is the applied science of analytics and wherein lies huge potential for changing what the HBR even calls “the art of management”.
There are more and more RFP’s that are interesting for the direction that they reveal the industry to be going in. Player Rewards Programs, i-lottery services, even a search for “one or more firms that can lead, inspire and facilitate strategic thinking about the total customer experience and how gaming transactions can be integrated into the future retail experience and technologies”. There clearly is no shortage of visionary thinking and innovation in the sphere of operational effectiveness that delivers near-term results.
Online Poker giant 888 Holdings now has partnerships with both Facebook and Zynga Games. These partnerships are operational right now in some jurisdictions where online money-games are legal. For instance, Facebook Bingo Friendster is growing steadily in the UK, a jurisdiction that does not prohibit online money-games. The player style demographic of online poker players and social gamers may be different from lottery. But I would think the power of Facebook is not just as a distribution channel to segment the market and target specific games to the corresponding play style demographic. As a customer acquisition tool, Facebook could influence consumer behavior, perhaps even reshaping the world of consumer-based money games of all kinds. Even if Lottery can’t morph into a poker-like social game, perhaps it could still partner with Facebook with a customer acquisition and customer relationship management agenda?
Sales of lottery products in China rose by 18% in calendar year 2012 over 2011. Lottery sales in 2012 were 261.52 billion yuan, which is 31.50 billion Euro and 42 billion U.S.D. With a population of 1.4 billion, which is almost triple the European Union, and quintuple that of the U.S., the per cap’ sales are still way below the more mature markets and so will likely maintain the double digit growth. Our next issue features an interview with Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich in which we discuss his observations based on his recent trip to China.