Using AI to Deliver a Better Player Experience
Now more than ever, lotteries can put data to powerful use in reinvigorating and growing the player base.
As the lottery industry looks ahead to recovery from recent global events, there are untapped opportunities that can help to restore and grow playership along with much-needed revenues to beneficiaries. Since the stay-at-home and social distancing restrictions have been implemented across many jurisdictions globally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, lotteries that offer products digitally are experiencing significant growth in this area. It is expected that the implications from the pandemic will result in true digitization across the channels of consumer interaction. Digitization would mean more data, and using Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, lotteries can harness their data to better understand individual player needs and requirements. Armed with those insights, operators are better equipped to make decisions and take actions to attract, engage and retain players.
Personalization is Everything
Data without insights is meaningless. Insights without action are pointless.
Across industries, “data” has been hailed as a great game-changer that gives rise to invaluable products, services, and progress. This may be true, but even with the ability to crunch huge amounts of data, often we still need human expertise to translate that data into insights ─ and a willingness to act on those insights.
With the right data in the right format, lotteries can harness AI to enhance many aspects of the player experience, from purchasing and marketing, to game and customer service optimization. And, as in other industries, personalization is the key. Research published on Forbes.com shows that 74 percent of consumers get frustrated when the content they are offered has nothing to do with what they like.1
Moreover, a research survey from Accenture Interactive found “nearly all consumers (91 percent) are still more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations.”2
Today, countless companies around the globe have generated billions in revenue through customer retention by using data to continually refine user profiles and offer seamless personalization and recommendations. 3
Here is where AI can help lottery operators excel. Using captured data, AI can create a player profile that is continually refined over time.
Starting with the first tracked transactions, which might identify basic benchmarks such as the date and time of play, to detail about what kind of games a player chooses, AI can review and organize mountains of data. And, by sorting and matching this data, AI software produces a useful profile that lotteries can use to make decisions and take actions, often in real time, to improve the player experience. Even AI is not perfect, and every responsible system includes monitoring and constant evaluation to ensure AI decisions and the underlying data are inclusive and do not carry forward human bias.
For AI to impact the consumer experience, insights need to be conveyed in the moment through the individual’s chosen touchpoint. This means that lottery’s ability to integrate with player touchpoints is the key to personalization and in-the-moment engagement.
The Benefits of AI to Players and Lotteries
Both players and lotteries stand to benefit significantly from the use of AI to improve the player experience.
- Personalized content that is truly interesting to them
- Offered relevant promotions at the right time
- Prioritized app and site information based on history
- Seamless and helpful service based on needs and preferences
- Accessible responsible gaming tools to personally manage their gaming
- Increased customer loyalty and advocacy
- Improved responsible gaming efforts
- Keep players engaged with relevant, customized content
- More effective and personalized customer communication
- Valuable customer insights generate increased upsell and cross-sell opportunity
- Increased customer lifetime value
Where Lottery Data Lives
An important consideration in implementing AI is where and how to collect the data you need. Fortunately, data is already being generated through every part of a lottery operation:
- Terminals – where customers buy their lottery tickets from local vendors or POS
- Mobile or websites – which offer a lot of analytics and user-journey insights
- Core lottery central systems – which offer insight on every draw-based game
- Player accounts – can provide key data on customer habits and preferences, including details about usage, geographical location, purchase activity, and games, plus with player approvals and opt-in sharing, external information such as professional details, social network profile, grocery purchase and restaurant details, and chosen forms of entertainment
- Instant Win games – provide information on what games are played, when they are played, what the customer likes and does not like
- Back office systems – which offer information about the entire business
- Games – the key content accessed by every player. There are different kinds of players and different game themes. These can be categorized in many ways, depending on the lottery. As players interact with different themes, more granular insight is captured. It is crucial to capture, retain, and continuously update game data to aid in player retention.
With digital play, data accessibility is lot easier, as the electronic fingerprint is easily tracked. The key to understanding the player journey is to leverage data on where players came from, what content they accessed, what promotions they liked, what games they like, why and when they decided to register, or why they didn’t like the experience and exited.
Each lottery touchpoint can yield mountains of data. But to make good business decisions, the information needs to be combined. Just looking at one set of data provides only a limited perspective on a single player’s journey. The key is to successfully combine the data so it can be used and analysed together.
The goal is to implement AI with data that is
- Unique – brings additional value to the market
- Continuously captured – to identify even small changes
- Well-structured – filtered, cleaned, and organized in a data warehouse
- Easily accessible – efficiently available for API requests, analysis, and data enrichments
Simplifying a Complex Process
Even with rich data available, the steps to an AI implementation are not simple. They include:
- Defining objectives. What decisions do you want AI to help you make, and why?
- Ensuring that the right data is available in the right format to enable AI to learn from it. It is often necessary to organize data from multiple sources and different purposes.
- Analyzing, labelling, and preparing your data for the defined objectives. You also need to store and protect the growing data sets.
- Building and testing algorithms with enough accuracy and efficiency to inform good business decisions.
- Integrating the AI dashboards with web applications, core platforms, etc.
The IGT data science team has found that each algorithmic model works best when sufficient time is taken to create the models based on real data, and each model is thoroughly tested. This is an important point, because having the right algorithms that work efficiently and accurately is critical. Running your very specific lottery data through prebuilt models and standard AI software can seem advantageous, but may not deliver the performance promised because it was built for a different industry with different data sets.
IGT’s AI products are designed to help customers gain deeper insights into player preferences and behaviors and answer questions such as: how players react to the content offered, how frequently they play, why they play, and how to personalize offerings to them while maintaining a responsible and safe gaming environment. AI can also play a central role in improving responsible gaming efforts, as well as security and fraud protections.
IGT has worked to remove the complexity for lotteries by providing a purpose-built AI platform called Play.AI, which has been live in the market for more than three years. This field-tested solution processes vast amounts of data in minutes and relays easy-to-understand reports that help operators determine how to retain and prioritize players, to identify which games to promote, and more.
Overcoming the Challenges
The tech giant Microsoft forecasts that, by 2025, “as many as 95% of all customer interactions will be through channels supported by AI Technology.” In our industry, the data is there. The challenge for lotteries is to quickly identify and consolidate the data, and then in real time, convert those insights to actions.
It is akin to the difference between an unorganized office and an organized one. When you can find what you need, the results are faster and better. Even if a lottery were to access as little as 10% of its existing data and create a consolidated view of its players, the application of AI can drive significant business results.
To realize the significant, sustainable advantages of AI, lotteries need to overcome challenges such as legacy systems that do not allow for aggregation of customer data into a single player view. This capability enables lotteries to access and aggregate the powerful information available to them to make more informed business decisions and to tailor specific games, promotions, and featured content to individual players.
This type of data aggregation means unifying all your customer data from potentially diverse systems and sources into one that offers a single view, typically managed at the platform level. There is a lot more data related to players, games, and sales dispersed in different systems that, when taken together, can enable lotteries to offer an entirely new customer experience and enable lotteries to personalize content. IGT welcomes the opportunity to share information and partner with our lottery customers to overcome these hurdles and take advantage of a purpose-built, field-tested AI platform.
By Srini Nedunuri, Vice President IGT PlayDigital™ Lottery
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Simply put, AI is a collection of technologies that, when brought together, allow computers to compile and analyze data, and make automated decisions or provide insights that previously only human intelligence could perform.
Today, the lottery industry relies on human experts to analyze data and produce meaningful insights. AI harnesses technology to automate this process for massive amounts of data. AI can do it faster and more efficiently and can recognize and highlight correlations that humans might not be able to find.
Putting Data into Action
Across industries, leading businesses are using their vast amounts of available data combined with AI not only to improve their offerings but also to drive superior financial performance.
Vodafone and Huawei
European telecoms giants Vodafone and Huawei used AI to create an automated omnichannel “churn to return” system. The AI system looks at transactions from mobile devices and websites to the communications impact and actions at the store in order to detect customers with high potential to churn, and then sends out personalized offers to retain the customer.
With more than 167 million paid memberships, the world’s leading streaming entertainment service provides seamless personalization and recommendations by using data and AI to continually build individual customer profiles.
The world’s biggest retailer is building a state-of-the-art analytics hub located within its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, to process the 2.5 petabytes of data it collects every hour in a private computing cloud. The project has one key objective: to cut the time it takes to make the right commercial decisions. What once took weeks can now be done in a matter of minutes.