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Creating the Truly Open, Fluid, Dynamic Infrastructure

continued from page 30

a better consumer experience as well as

operational efficiencies. The other CPG

brands are meeting and exceeding these

increased expectations. Some of them

are even leading the way. Lottery needs

to do the same to preserve its high-pro-

file space in the retail environment.

Further to that, Lottery needs go

where the consumers are going, which

is beyond our traditional channels of

C-stores and grocery stores. We need to

penetrate new venues like quick service

restaurants, transportation hubs, hos-

pitality locations, and other non-tradi-

tional venues and POS’s. There is a so-

lution that enables us to meet the needs

for more efficiently serving and sup-

porting the heightened expectations of

our retail partners. It has been deployed

by lotteries internationally, but we are

slow to adopt it in the U.S. And it’s a

solution that we must approach not as

individual lotteries or a particular ven-

dor, but collectively as an industry. The

solution is the API—Application Pro-

gramming Interface. Our panel is going

to delve into the details of API. Ours is

a $70 billion industry that is capable of

taking this step towards modernization.

The standard API enables retailers to in-

tegrate our business into their systems

on a national scale rather than reinvent-

ing the IT infrastructure on a state-by-

state basis. It’s not without challenges,

some of which may be daunting, but the

benefits are a game changer for us. And

the reason to do it is to increase sales

and net funds to good causes. Let’s start

with Gardner …

Gardner Gurney:

The API can be

thought of as the secure IT handshake

that enables communication, and data

transactions, to happen the same way

every time. Both receiver and sender can

know that the data is being transacted

securely and accurately. Your own ex-

isting internal control system and your

gaming system already operate with an

API. What gets programmed into your

internal control system is executed in

your gaming system and data is trans-

mitted back and forth between the two.

You need the common communication

language provided by the API for that

to happen. So, lotteries are already us-

ing API’s internally. We just need to

work collectively to create the API that

enables us to integrate as a group with

our retailers.

For retailers it really is about being

able to build reports quickly and eas-

ily. The retailer does not want to go to

14 different IT hubs to get information

that is produced in 14 different formats.

They need to go to one place where it is

already assembled for them to seamlessly

pull it down into their own system.

The API delivers a win/win solution.

It just enables everyone to communi-

cate in the same programming language.

Outputs, inputs, and responses are all in

the same language. For instance, we are

in the middle of replacing our winning

numbers app. We told the new vendor

that they must integrate with the exist-

ing API that we already built. We’re not

going to rebuild it for you or commu-

nicate with you on a different platform

with different processes and protocols. I

require this of our vendors, and Retailers

want us, the community of lottery op-

erators, to do the same for them. That is,

to collaborate and produce an API that

enables them to interact with us, get

data and reports and communicate with

us, in a single standardized way.

Another example - we use a state-wide

contract and system to support the pro-

cessing of debit and credit card transac-

tions for subscriptions. This is enabled

by an API that gets some of the best rat-

ings by the users, as well as delivering a

lower cost for us, because it’s for the en-

tire state, not just for the lottery. It’s just

about being creative and being flexible.

Carole Hedinger:

We are all so lim-

ited by our closed systems that System A

can’t talk to System B. And now, it’s not

only the multistate retailers that are de-

manding that we upgrade our IT. In-state

single-owner retailers are also consolidat-

ing into multi-store operations that need

the data to be aggregated, and for the

communications systems to be stream-

lined in the ways enabled by the API.

We need to look at our retailers as our

customers. Consumers buy the product,

but retailers are our first customers. We

need to treat retailers the way the produc-

ers of other products treat their customers.

We need to meet their needs for conve-

nience and operational efficiency. Current

processes are simply not doing that.

Paul Riley:

Our industry needs a stan-

dard API for our offer to be compelling to

the modern retailer. That is what enables

the retailer to integrate seamlessly with

the $70 billion industry that the U.S.

Lottery industry represents. The retailers

want to make this happen. They just need

us to modernize, and for them that means

implementing a standardized API.

As Gardner pointed out, APIs actually

permeate all of our lives already. When-

ever we post something to Facebook,

buy something at Amazon, or watch a

movie on Netflix … all of these activities

are enabled by API’s. If we could make it

easier for retailers to interact with us on

a communications and operational level,

that would unlock a whole new level of

ease and efficiency. The impact of that

on sales and net funds to good causes is

potentially profound.