With news of the latest European lottery gaining the ability to migrate its digital system to the cloud via IGT’s iLottery platform, Sri Jawaharlal, IGT Chief Technology Officer Global Lottery, discusses the importance of cloud computing ─ a key pillar among IGT’s investments to support customers’ sustainable growth.
“IGT’s technology strategy is driven by our customers’ business needs as we work to develop state-of-the-art solutions that are valuable for the industry,” said Jawaharlal. “One of the most compelling opportunities today is moving services into the cloud.”
You’re leading IGT lottery technology at a time of major industry transformation. How are you approaching it?
IGT recognizes that lotteries need flexibility, interoperability, and full support in the ever-blending landscape between retail and digital lottery player needs. I’m focused on improving efficiencies and go-to-market strategies so that we are delivering the best possible solutions to IGT customers in the timeframes they need and expect, enabling them to connect the dots between traditional lottery and iLottery with cloud technology to fully realize the transformative advantages.
How is IGT deploying cloud technology for lotteries?
Wherever we anticipate a dynamic demand ─ where the volume of activity cannot be controlled ─ that is a priority for cloud and the best place to start. For example, on a jackpot night, suddenly a large volume of players wants to buy tickets or check their numbers. Our approach has been to migrate all the internet-facing applications to the cloud first, and in that respect IGT is cloud-ready today. All our iLottery products and any retail services accessible over the internet are cloud-enabled.
The second wave, now in process, is to migrate the non-internet-facing applications, including the central systems. Rather than just put our existing applications on the cloud (known as a “Lift & Shift” approach), we are enabling or building them specifically for the cloud to provide customers with more of the benefits.
What do you consider the main benefits of cloud for lotteries?
Security, dynamic scalability, and rapid upgradability are the fundamental reasons for customers to move to a public cloud infrastructure. Let’s take the first wave of applications: Several of IGT’s European and North American customers already have eInstants live in the cloud, and internet sales are growing so fast that this gives them dynamic scalability. Trying to build infrastructure to keep up with the demand would be like building a two-lane road and then trying to convert it into a four-lane road when the traffic surges. A lottery’s sales volume could grow by 30% to 40% or more every year.
In FY22, for example, year-over-year eInstants sales growth for Poland’s National Lottery, Totalizator Sportowy, was 93.3%. The Lottery received the new upgrade of IGT’s iLottery platform in 2022, which included our Remote Game Server (RGS) cloud solution.
Along with dynamic scalability, consider that infrastructure upgrades are up-to-date in the cloud. For instance, for eInstant customers with cloud, there’s no point where you need to do a major system conversion for end-of-life infrastructure, because you are always current. eInstants sales are in growth mode. IGT has the platform that’s fulfilling their expectations and giving them significant ability to grow and scale.
How does cloud tie in to IGT’s vision of improving the player experience?
IGT’s hybrid cloud strategy enables operators’ omnichannel capabilities wherever a lottery is on their journey to digital. At the WLS conference in October, we introduced lotteries to OMNIA™, IGT’s most advanced solution to transform lottery operations. OMNIA™ converges the retail and digital channels, giving lotteries the power and the tools to capture previously unrecorded retail-player transactions.
For the first time in our industry, we’re enabling integrated data collection and the opportunity to personalize offerings based on both retail and digital play histories. When players lightly register through a simple process, our Connected Play solution not only digitalizes the in-store player journey, but it also provides digital convenience features both inside and outside the store. Right from a Lottery’s app, they can decide whether they prefer paper playslips or digital playslips, whether they should get a paper ticket or a digital ticket. They can decide if they prefer to be paid out in cash or to their eWallet, and they can opt in or out of personalized messaging or responsible gaming messages.
This provides a seamless experience for the player throughout the entire journey with the Lottery. And, because IGT’s Connected Play program collects data on every player action, it offers the Lottery new insights using advanced analysis techniques and AI, which will deliver stronger player relationships and greater engagement.
We’re taking advantage of cloud to modernize our system and our technologies to support these player journeys enabled by OMNIA™, and this also benefits our customers. For example, the Player Account Management system is in the cloud, and it serves both channels. It can also serve the retail channel by itself if there’s no iLottery.
By converging the retail and digital channels, IGT’s groundbreaking OMNIA™ solution collects previously unattainable data to better understand and analyze player behavior, dramatically improving a lottery’s ability to launch, market, and enhance games to meet player preferences.
How does this help lottery operators better understand player preferences and personalize game recommendations?
As discussed, OMNIA™ gives you a vast amount of data that you’ve never had before ─ you have the addition of that whole new channel of retail data. Think about how quickly that scales. Again, you need scalability, accessibility, and speed to access that data. You need the tools to analyze it. And you need a place to put it that also scales. Part of our cloud strategy is to use data lakes, which are centralized repositories that can store all your structured and unstructured data at any scale.
All of this new data available through OMNIA™ is critical for reporting and analytics. IGT’s Player Data Platform uses that data along with lottery-specific artificial intelligence models to help lotteries more effectively target and delight players with highly personalized offerings. This data-management platform is another one of the cloud-based components of the OMNIA™ solution. Our business intelligence solution ─ Performance Wizard ─ and its associated data store enable OMNIA™’s cross-channel player-behavior analytics, and we’re now migrated that to the cloud as well.
Today there are billions of dollars being invested in the cloud industry, and we want to help our customers take advantage of those advances.
Across more than two decades of experience with IGT’s Information Technology and Services team, IGT’s Sri Jawaharlal has been focused on the challenges facing both traditional lottery and iLottery operators. He was appointed Chief Technology Officer Global Lottery in 2022, reporting to IGT Global Lottery CEO Fabio Cairoli.
For more information about IGT’s cloud technology offerings and new OMNIA™ solution, please contact your IGT Account Representative.