Bede Gaming’s Sarah Hitchcock: fully embracing the digital approach

Sarah Hitchcock, EVP Bede Canada and Chief Product Officer, spoke with SBC about the positive influence that digital technology is wielding on the lottery and gaming sectors
Image: Bede Gaming

Sarah Hitchcock, EVP Bede Canada and Chief Product Officer, spoke with SBC about the positive influence that digital technology is wielding on the lottery and gaming sectors.

What’s Bede Gaming’s philosophy around driving digital and how does that fit within the collaborative process with a lottery operator like OLG?

Most of our operators, like OLG, come from the retail market, and so we work hand-in-hand with them to support them in their digital aspirations. The Bede platform is highly flexible so it’s important that we work together to ensure its set up is aligned with their ambitions and target market. Ultimately, operators want to give their customers the most relevant, tailored and exciting product and proposition in all channels, all of the time. We believe that the only true way to do this is through putting digital at the heart of your growth strategy.

OLG has fully embraced digital as a complementary channel to its retail arm and is hugely benefiting from this approach. OLG is uniquely positioned and trusted as the only operator that is giving money back directly to the people of Ontario. 

Other lottery operators can also benefit from this collaborative approach and provide further support to the communities they serve by prioritising a digital strategy.

In what ways do you think that digital is helping push lotteries to become more competitive?

The vast majority of customers who play the lottery, are making other day-to-day purchases online. Many of them will also be buying their lottery tickets online. Whilst for some, they have the habit of buying their lottery ticket in their preferred retail location, digital is always going to be a more convenient way of doing this, as Covid has shown us. 

The two critical words for any business are ‘relevance’ and ‘convenience’, and lotteries are no different – how do they remain relevant and convenient for their customers or potential customers? Digital entertainment brands use their data to offer compelling propositions. It is up to the lottery to provide a better alternative. 

We are already seeing the leading lotteries embrace digital as the driving force of innovation across their organisations; launching new lottery games, creating new games concepts, enhancing their offering with exciting promotions or loyalty programmes. Digital platforms enable lotteries to expand their offering rapidly, whilst also tailoring their messaging to a customer. 

What about the player experience? How is Bede Gaming using technology to enhance that and what are the challenges involved in reacting to changes in player preference?

Player experience is integral for any operator to be successful. Bede’s platform and tools have been specifically developed to optimise a player experience no matter the product vertical. The flexibility of the platform means that each client can tailor the available tools to create a truly personalised player experience for each customer. From live chat to real time data to offers, games and safety measures. All of which work together to enforce the trust in the operator’s brand whilst also deepening loyalty as their every whim is catered for.

With digital now touching on most aspects of daily life, how do you ensure that it remains a tool to enhance OLG’s offer through intuitive design and entertaining products rather than simply become a superficial function?

Whilst most lotteries are the exclusive destination for lottery products, the majority of operators will offer the same range of sports bets, casino games, Bingo games or Poker. It is the brand, the look and feel, the tone of voice, the experience and critically the relevance of the product and message that differentiate operators. 

If an operator uses enterprise level Content Management Systems and Customer Relationship Marketing tools in isolation from a best of breed platform then the outcome will be superficial. A cutting edge platform, with real time data, rules engine and dynamic segmentation, is the glue that holds the process together and gives the operator the holistic view necessary to ensure an effective entertainment experience.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2022, what’s in store for Bede Gaming and its partners on the technology front? What developments can we expect to see?

The introduction of Colin Cole-Johnson as Bede’s new CEO is an exciting time for us. Colin brings with him extensive experience from the operator side, which gives us a unique insight into making further developments to the Platform to ensure it continues to support and facilitate the realisation of our clients’ ambitions.  

In Ontario, the market has just opened up, enabling not just more operators, but making it easier for content suppliers to access the Ontario market; and Bede is looking forward to further increasing the range of games and products customers will have access to. 

In Germany, whilst the market is live, Casino licences have yet to be issued, and like all newly regulated markets, we can expect a continuous stream of changes. We expect to be doing a lot of work in Germany, building upon Gauselmann’s strong position and heritage. We’re also really excited to see how Eyas does in Germany, having started very strongly in the UK under the Merkur brand. 

And recently, we saw the prospect of Casino slots in the South African market, where we work with Sun Bet, moving a step closer, which is fantastic. 

So the future of 2022 looks very promising for Bede and our customers. The full version of this interview features in the latest issue of SBC Leaders Magazine which will be distributed at next week’s SBC Summit North America in New Jersey.