Thought Leadership/Q&A with Thomas Aigner head of business development at discussing the future of CRM

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Thomas Aigner, Head of Business Development at discusses the changing landscape of CRM processes and how the development of artificial intelligence is altering the future of CRM.

How does Ibex see the future of iGaming CRM developing in relation to AI and how will this benefit operators? 


What does the current landscape of iGaming CRM look like- what changes are you expecting over the next few years?

Currently, we are seeing more and more investment in AI solutions as operators and suppliers look to gain an edge in the increasingly competitive iGaming market, however, I think as an industry we have only just begun scratching the surface with significant changes to CRM forthcoming. There are some obvious, well-known CRM suppliers in the market, such as Optimove and Fasttrack as well as a lot of promising rising stars entering the space. We have already seen examples of acquisitions of these newer companies through recent deals involving Optimove acquiring Graphyte, and I’m expecting to see more of these types of partnerships moving forward.

Most of the ongoing innovation has been structured in a traditional linear way, to optimise the current CRM processes and how those teams work, essentially helping them better segment players or create rule-based systems (gamification or customer journeys). Once built, they send automated communications, but much in the same way as the term personalisation is often misused, automation is also because businesses still need someone to constantly create new target groups, campaigns and rules for new journeys. This increases overheads through the cost of labour to manage these systems whereas using an AI that offers true automation reduces these costs. The future of CRM is AI – creating full automation and developing a self-driving system is paramount, and this process is at the core of what Ibex.AI stands for.

As AI becomes increasingly integrated into the CRM process, we will see fundamental differences in how companies operate daily. CRM teams will begin moving away from segmentation and average campaigns for target groups and pivot towards 100% personalisation. We will see less human error through data analytics, and close to perfectly accurate execution.


What does the advancement in AI technology mean for jobs going forward?

There’s always a sense of fear of the unknown when it comes to innovations, especially surrounding Artificial Intelligence. The real aim here is for AI to assist companies by automating the process, reducing the amount of legwork that is currently done by humans, with these job roles adapting to focus increasingly on creativity, strategy and giving more commercial responsibility to people. It could mean that CRM and Retention Managers can grow more into the role of Brand Managers, gaining more responsibility and taking care of bigger markets. AI also creates the opportunity to help start-ups without the budget for their CRM team, as well as those brands looking to enter new markets.


How will changes to CRM affect issues surrounding bonus abuse and player retention?

Bonus abuse and player retention have been a cause for concern within the industry and AI can solve many of these issues through the use of deep learning algorithms. AI can predict the LTV of each player under many different scenarios, only executing an action if it will return a profit. As a result, those models can also identify bonus abusers and would limit or even stop bonusing these players because it has become unprofitable for the business.

Real personalisation will play an important role in player retention moving forward – albeit not in the way it is currently used – all companies say they personalise but in fact, just get more granular when setting up target groups or building more and more rule based customer journeys. This relates heavily to retention, with players receiving a far greater personalised experience from campaigns and activities that are aimed specifically towards them, as opposed to an average group of people, further connecting customers to the brand.


How does AI allow operators to affect player behaviour- does it differ from the standard CRM approach?

AI can fundamentally change the standard CRM approach and how it functions as it reduces the workload of marketing teams and the CRM process. A practice that can in many cases have six major steps to it can be shortened to one or two, those being checking on the performance of the machine and coming up with new and creative ideas that AI can then execute and optimize. This focus on new creative ideas goes on to change players’ behaviour by diversifying how operators are reaching out to players. Additionally, AI is affecting each player by analysing them as individuals and constantly improving what is best for them, a process which would take far too much time using the standard CRM approach.


Are there any specific markets you believe will get an added benefit from advancement in iGaming CRM?

Obviously, the majority of innovative ideas originate in mature markets in Europe and the US, but I think that, especially in LATAM and Africa, there is a great opportunity to grow and help operators there to make a difference and to scale more quickly while developing the overall market. This can only be a positive. If we can raise the overall betting experience for players in these markets and allow the companies to free up time and focus on other areas of business as they grow, then I think that is a great outcome.


What is the future for AI?

I believe in the future we will reflect and struggle to understand how we could have lived without the support of AI to be able to offer the best entertainment to each player. AI will be integral to the iGaming market and it is only going to continue to grow and develop as more people within the industry come to understand how machine learning is now proving an invaluable asset to retention teams. Everybody will use at least some and in some cases a greater number of AI tools and will be developing their teams to understand and work effectively alongside this innovative technology.


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