The last 12 months have been challenging for the industry to say the least. Coming into the year, operators and developers would have been looking to build on the success they achieved in 2019, yet those plans were halted due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent global lockdown.
But through those difficult times, the online casino industry has stood resolute and defiant in the face of uncertainty. As the Chinese strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu once wrote: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
In the first part of our CasinoBeats 100 Club we asked our members:
What lessons would you take from a challenging 2020, both personally and professionally?
One key aspect that was taken away from this year is the necessity of being adaptive. The industry witnessed a major shift in live events transforming into digital one that Glen Bullen, chief commercial officer at DAOGroup, believed required ‘quick thinking’ and ‘fast adapting on the fly’ to succeed.
He noted: “Professionally, there’s definitely a lesson learned on the necessity of being adaptable. Live events were the cornerstone of our brand introduction and product launch plans for this year, so with those out of play both through this year and well into next it required some quick thinking and fast adapting on the fly.
“But it worked. So now it’s all about optimising the remote process, without thought to how we would have done it under different circumstances (or expectation to return to that anytime soon).”
Reflecting on the personal experience for himself in 2020, Bullen expressed that this year has been about adapting to a new pace in life. He continued: “Personally, it’s been all about learning (or convincing myself) to enjoy a simplified and slower pace to life.
“I sure miss the travel, and the events, but have come to accept a walk with the dog will just have to do (for now).”
Yet while some have embraced the change to the digital environment, others have highlighted the importance of human interaction within the industry. James Myles, analyst at Etadelta, explained that, now more than ever, the importance of human contact is clear.
“While we have been able to carry out much of our work effectively using remote working tools, there is a human element to consulting, training and advising that really benefits from being among people,” explained Myles.
“Yes, the services can be delivered remotely, but there are valuable social and personal qualities that rely on meeting in-person.”
Mark Knighton, CEO at Obsidian Consultancy, echoed Bullen’s claim of adapting to a slower pace in life, expressing the importance of a ‘work life balance’.
Discussing the lessons he’s taken from this year, Knighton said: “Personally, take time for yourself, no matter what chaos is going on all around you, mental, physical health and work life balance is the most important thing in life.”
The importance of balance was also a key factor for Knighton when it came to the industry where he commented: “I would say to ensure you diversify your product range, customer segmentation and don’t be reliant on one or two big customers.”
Laszlo Pados, brand manager at Funstage, witnessed that working from home can be just as ‘effective as working from the office’ stating: “Our industry can even carry out large projects without seeing each other face-to-face on a daily basis.”
However, he claimed that while digital events were organised well, they can’t fully replace physical events and meeting counterparts within the industry.
Philip Parry, CEO at Iforium, stated that one of the major highlights of the chaotic year was the improved collaboration between his team which has been brought about by working at home.
He commented: “Since March it has been an unprecedented period for business and a testing time for everyone both personally and professionally.
“Many business lessons were learned but one that really stands out was, being apart actually brought our team closer together. The Iforium team moved seamlessly to remote working and they delivered an exceptional level of service and productivity supporting our global client base.”
Agreeing with the points made by Knighton and Bullen, Parry added: “On a personal note, the lockdown period and enforced working from home reminded me that the right work/life balance is important. That is something I will strive to maintain in the future.”
Expressing his personal development throughout 2020, Tim Parker, COO at superseven.com, said: “I have always known I am a people person at heart, but one who is equally happy with my own company – but now I realise just how much I need that variety and challenge of being with many other different types of person.”
On a professional level, Parker highlighted the major learning point for himself was to ‘never forget how valuable face to face relationships are.’ He continued: “Sure, we can work remotely – that has been proven for many years now and forced upon us by COVID.
“However there is nothing like meeting and discussing issues face to face to a) build trust that is not so easily found ‘virtually’ b) be more productive and creative in a live environment c) how much I love being around other interesting people.”
JAMCO Capital President, Christopher Kape, cited an old adage ‘Man Plans and God Laughs’ when it comes to thinking of 2020. He explained: “In essence, it shows us that even our best-laid plans in life can be upended by unexpected changes.
“So the take-home lesson from this past year, both personally and professionally, is that we should always expect the unexpected. For those who were unable to quickly adapt, the damage was delivered harshly.
“However, those that could change, benefited and, in some cases, even surpassed pre-pandemic projections.”