Michael Sandalis, Atlantic Lottery

Guest Contributors:

Jason Steeves – Enterprise Architect

Martin Richard – Mgr. Acquisition, Atlantic Lottery

If you follow technology even a little you’ve probably heard of the Consumer Electronic Show (CES). This annual mega-conference shines the spotlight on new technology and advancements in virtually every sphere of life. This is not your small-town arena tradeshow. This year, the CES drew approximately 175,000 people and is rumored to have attracted more media than the Olympic Games.

I went to CES on behalf of ALC, but, with a trade show so large, I needed a plan to maximize my time there. Ultimately, we came up with a question to keep in the back of my mind to better evaluate if and how a particular technology, application or innovation could serve my particular industry: “How can we use technology in order to make it as easy and user-friendly as possible for people to play our various lottery games (Lotto, Instant, Sports, VL, iBingo)?”

Focusing on this one question helped me manage the sensory and information overload. It allowed me to enjoy the conference while still gaining practical –and out of the box- insights into what’s out there and how I can help my team apply it to lottery player preferences.

With that in mind, I have put together my Top 10 CES insights. They are meant to help Atlantic Lottery’s customer innovation team, but they apply to just about any Lottery. The list is meant to get us thinking. If we adopt just one of these insights, I think we will be taking a step forward in reaching our customers when, where and how they like to play our games.

#10 – Your car… but not for long.

I say “not for long” because it is pretty certain the next generation of drivers will be using automated ride sharing exclusively.

But in the meantime, several companies are getting ready for the autonomous car movement that will allow us to do pretty much anything we want in our car – safely – while we commute. So is it that far off to think about asking your car to buy your lotto tickets, check the winning numbers or download a game?

#9 – What are you wearing?

Wearables, wearables, everywhere wearables. I saw rings, earrings, watch straps, bracelets, watches, smart bands, headbands, glasses. But how about jeans that provide directions, smart bras, belts, shirts, vests with airbags built in?

It’s not a stretch to say that soon everything will be connected. Not that many years ago, becoming fluent on the mobile platform was a big deal. Now, being relevant with the various wearable platforms is going to be a business necessity. Can you store your lottery numbers on your wedding band to be scanned and paid for at your local retailer? In the near future, you will and, provided the security components can be nailed down, it will be great for players.

#8 – Are you smarter than…your smart appliance?

Smart appliances aren’t just about your stove connecting to Wi-Fi so you can monitor your roast from the hockey rink.

Can you imagine accessing your lottery tickets through your fridge? If your fridge uses AI and keeps track of your weekly buying patterns to “know” you need groceries to make the lasagna for the Steeves dinner party tomorrow night, it can add lottery tickets to your grocery order. Alternatively, it could simply ask you if you want tickets this week, then make the transaction and display your numbers on the fridge. When you reach for the milk the next morning, your fridge tells you whether or not you’re the next millionaire.

#7 – I believe I can fly: drones.

Only a couple years ago, we would have laughed at the idea of home delivery of Scratch ‘N Win tickets.* Drones are increasingly being used to deliver packages from Amazon, for example. What if drones became everyday delivery mechanisms? Wouldn’t we use them? You bet we would.

The technology that was demonstrated at the show was amazing. Get this: there are drones that, once synced to your facial features, will follow you around (pictured) and snap pictures with the mere wave of your hand. Why not ask it to grab you a vitamin water when you are thirsty? It’s coming. And sooner than you think.

*(Note: this spring, Atlantic Lottery will take an idea from concept to high-fidelity prototype that will deliver scratch tickets to players’ homes. Stay tuned)

#6 – The AR/VR/MR Mixtape.

We know that virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality are the next big experience enhancements. What I saw at the CES was a significant acceleration of the technology. It’s visually sharper and faster all around. The devices are getting sleeker and less intrusive to wear. In many cases, they are becoming almost invisible. This will surely continue to accelerate the development and adoption of the technology.

What we have to be aware of is that these platforms are ready for the integration of lottery and gaming. At Atlantic Lottery, we are in the process of determining what we have to do to take advantage of evolving immersive technologies. Why? Recent immersion interviews for project we are working on reveled that non-players ranked concepts that utilized these technologies very high.

#5 – Come on, get optimistic.

Let’s start with the right mindset because without that nothing happens. There’s no doubt that lottery 2.0 is here and is already passing us. This progress encapsulates the move from transactional (1.0) to experiential (2.0). The good news? The potential to take lottery to the next level is here and we are already working on how to evolve even further. The challenge? We need to decide how we are going to evolve and then guide the company and our players to the next phase of new and improved lottery experiences.

#4 – Why should you care about Bluetooth?

Bluetooth 5’s release caused a lot of excitement at the show and I had the opportunity to better understand the opportunities it creates.
So, how has Bluetooth been updated in this recent release? Bluetooth’s range has increased substantially as has its battery life of hardware– up to five years. Bluetooth believes hardware advancements will outpace software. For example, with extended battery life, hardware will last the lifetime of the beacons it integrates with. Wow. I never thought about Bluetooth like this and many people I spoke to are really into Bluetooth as a platform that can rev up our experiences.

So how do we facilitate all lottery services via Bluetooth? Here’s one example from our very own Martin Richard, Atlantic Lottery ecommerce team member: “This technology should bring a paradigm shift in the way brands communicate with consumers. Beacon provides a digital extension into the physical world. I’m excited to see where Beacon technology goes in the next few years. Imagine the conversion potential from sending contextual push mobile message to our players who have our iOS or Android App as they are walking into our brick and mortar environments such as a retailers, destination, VLT sites and at sponsored events. The opportunity to send players highly contextual, hyper-local, meaningful messages and advertisements on their smartphones would push our mobile conversion through the roof!”

#3 – Amazon the Great.

Amazon did not disappoint and was definitely the clear talk of the show mostly because it felt like Amazon was integrated into pretty much any other product or service. A smart fridge is a perfect place for the virtual assistant, for instance, since it’s already basically a calendar, shopping and to-do list, just without the magnets ;-). And Ford’s in-car Alexa integration with SYNC 3 is a genius move. It’s a direction that could help the automaker get an early lead in anticipating the next wave of in-car experiences, which are very likely to focus on virtual, voice-powered assistants. Amazon was the talk of CES this year, not because they’re building any particular consumer gadget that’s blowing all the others away, but because they’ve become key operators in a number of areas that have captured the attention of the public and the companies whose products they promote. It might not be as big as what the smartphone did for convergence but it still has similar feel. Convergence is the key and we all need to be ready to take advantage of the lateral opportunities.

Sounds like great strategy. Imagine if lotteries focused not only on being a destination product but rather on developing an ecosystem where it integrated into wherever the customers wanted them to be.

#2 – Connecting the dots: no interfaces.

Even with Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon in the voice game there were still companies like Lenovo and others that announced they were getting in on the action.

Truly, I see interfaces being expeditiously removed and replaced with well … maybe nothing. More to come from me on that but really, why focus on interfaces when they may soon be a thing of the past? Right now, we automatically turn to our phones but what’s the next main device? A headset, contact lenses and gestures, a chip embedded in your thumb?

#1 – Just say no. No more darn apps.

“Downloading an app is just plain stupid.” (If I had a bitcoin for every time I heard that during the course of four days at the CES…) This got me thinking: are apps on the way out? Lottery companies continue to talk about apps but maybe that ship has sailed. Maybe now we should be looking beyond the app. Why should you have to download an app and set up an account to make a lottery purchase from your mobile device? We hear from consumers who tell us they imagine a world where they open up their message system (Messenger, for example) and type in “get lotto tix” and receive a reply: “Hey Mike, here are your numbers for tonight’s 6/49 draw. 5, 9, 19, 30, 33, and 39. Good luck”. How can we do this without an app? Are we exploring this as an industry?

As my AL colleague Jason Steeves commented, this discussion leads to the concept of super apps, the extreme multitaskers of the app world: apps that incorporate a wide range of products and services you access every day.

If you want to learn more about super apps, watch this New York Times piece.

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