That question was asked from me two days ago. I’m not 100% sure what I answered to that, but I’ll tell you what I would answer now.
European Lotteries (EL) organized Innovation seminar here in Helsinki this week. My company Veikkaus acted as a hosting company and I believe that our team managed very well. The Innovation working group of EL did also excellent work when they planned the seminar program. We managed to get well-known keynote speakers like Dietmar Dahmen and Dave Caygill to our seminar. I’m not sure if I learnt anything specific from their presentations/shows, but at least I’m even more sure that we really need innovations! I had great opportunity to open that event and suddenly I was also asked to say the closing words and there my colleague Suvi asked the question in the heading of this blog.
The world is changing all the time. Consumers, and our customers, have more opportunities available. The competition has become tougher than it has ever before been and I’m sure that it won’t be easier anymore. I think that lottery companies have trusted that monopoly situation will secure them from the competition – I’m afraid that there still are many lotteries which are thinking that way… I’m sure that consumers don’t think that there is separate business area called lottery business or not even gambling business. Consumers just decide how they are going to use their money and lotteries and other gambling companies are in the middle of that “battle”.
If company would like to succeed in the competition, it should offer something special and different which customers would like to buy or pay for. If you are offering just an average product you could compete only with price which should be lower than the other companies have. It’s obvious that lotteries don’t have the lowest prices or the highest payout percent. If you can’t compete with the price, you should have something different compared to other companies. That’s why we need innovations!
I think that it’s already clear from my previous blogs that in my mind the customer is the King (or Queen)! We must always think about what the best solution for our customers is. It won’t help us, if we manage to develop excellent technical solution but consumers are not interested in that at all. Consumers are used to use service from great companies like Google, Facebook or Amazon and we should be at the same level than those giants are. How we can do that when we don’t have as much resources than they have? Cooperation might be the way to do that. Companies should utilize start-ups and their innovation capabilities. We should also find out good business partners, because we can’t do everything by ourselves. Companies should concentrate on areas where they are good and have strengths and let the partners take care of other issues.
The difficulty in innovation is that you don’t know what you are going to get there, or will you get anything. The scope of innovation work should be 2 – 5 years. If you are looking for something quicker innovation is probably not the solution. By improvement and development you could get something new quicker, but then the result won’t be so radical. Companies should allocate resources to all those three areas (improvement, development & innovation), because we can’t wait years to get something totally new.
Dietmar Dahmen spoke lots about customers and trust. That sounded very familiar to me. It’s extremely important that your customers would trust on you! It would be great to innovate products, services and above all business model which would responsible but at the same time profitable. I’m not sure how to make it, but I’m so keen on trying to do it. The result should customer oriented, personalized, easy, fun, modern and profitable solution for gambling business. Let’s innovate and try to make it happen!