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Are we, as an industry, holding ourselves back? This question echoed in my mind as I walked away from Affiliate World in February.

The conversations I had there were nothing short of revelatory, and they confirmed a suspicion I’ve harboured for quite some time: the iGaming industry is in desperate need of a reality check.

You might wonder why I’m attending non-iGaming conferences in the first place. The answer is simple: I’m searching for the innovation and fresh perspectives that our industry sorely lacks.

When it comes to marketing and marketing infrastructure, other industries are leaving us in the dust, and it’s time we face that fact head-on.

The truth is, we’ve become complacent. We operate in a bubble, jealously guarding our ideas and hiring from within our own ranks. We’re slow to innovate, slow to test, and reluctant to look beyond our backyard for inspiration.

But if we want to stay relevant in an ever-changing digital landscape, we need to burst that bubble and embrace the wider world of ideas. It’s time for the iGaming industry to lose its ego and open itself up to possibilities beyond our narrow confines.

Current challenges in iGaming

The iGaming industry’s insular practices and slow pace of innovation are not just minor annoyances; they are major roadblocks to our growth and success. While other industries are forging ahead with bold new ideas and cutting-edge technologies, we’re stuck in a rut of our own making.

Our tendency to hire from within and guard our ideas with an almost paranoid fervour has created an echo chamber where fresh perspectives are few and far between. We’re so focused on protecting our turf that we’re missing out on the incredible opportunities that come from collaboration and cross-pollination with our peers and other industries.

The consequences of this status quo are far-reaching. By failing to innovate at the same pace as other industries, we risk becoming irrelevant in an increasingly competitive digital landscape. Our content is stale, our marketing strategies are outdated, and our customers are starting to look elsewhere for the engaging experiences they crave.

“Our content is stale, our marketing strategies are outdated, and our customers are starting to look elsewhere for the engaging experiences they crave.”

Research has repeatedly shown that original, thought-provoking content stands out in today’s crowded media environment. Yet, when we draw only from the same narrow pool of ideas and perspectives, it becomes almost impossible to create anything truly groundbreaking.

We need to take a hard look at ourselves as an industry and ask whether our current practices are setting us up for long-term success. Are we really serving our customers – and ourselves – by clinging so tightly to the way things have always been done? Or are we holding ourselves back from the kind of growth and innovation that could propel us to new heights?

It’s time for us to break free from the constraints of our insular thinking and embrace the ideas and perspectives that exist beyond our bubble. Only then can we hope to create engaging, impactful content and experiences that will set us apart in a crowded marketplace.

The power of external perspectives

The power of embracing external perspectives cannot be overstated. When we look beyond the confines of our own industry, we open ourselves up to a world of possibilities and potential breakthroughs.

Take, for example, the automotive industry. For years, car manufacturers operated in much the same way as the iGaming industry does now – insular, slow to innovate, and resistant to change.

But then, something remarkable happened. Companies like Tesla and Google began to enter the market, bringing with them fresh ideas and cutting-edge technologies from the worlds of software and Silicon Valley.

Suddenly, the automotive industry was forced to sit up and take notice. Today, electric vehicles and self-driving cars are no longer the stuff of science fiction but a reality that is transforming the industry in ways that were once unimaginable.

Or consider the world of retail. For decades, brick-and-mortar stores dominated the landscape, with little incentive to innovate or evolve. But then, along came Amazon, a company that began as an online bookstore and quickly grew to become one of the most powerful and disruptive forces in the industry.

By embracing new technologies and business models, Amazon was able to completely transform the way we shop, forcing traditional retailers to either adapt or risk becoming obsolete.

These examples underscore the incredible value of diverse perspectives and cross-industry collaboration. By looking beyond our own backyard and embracing ideas from other fields, we can unlock new levels of creativity and innovation that would be impossible to achieve alone.

A growing body of research and theoretical frameworks supports this idea. One such model is the concept of “open innovation,” which suggests that companies should actively seek out external ideas and collaborations to drive growth and stay ahead of the curve.

Another is the “innovation ecosystem” model, which emphasises the importance of building networks and partnerships across industries to foster a culture of innovation and creativity.

By embracing these models and actively seeking out diverse perspectives, the iGaming industry can position itself for long-term success in an increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving digital landscape.

A new blueprint for iGaming innovation

So, how can the iGaming industry overcome its current limitations and embrace a new era of innovation and growth? I propose a five-step plan that can help us reshape our industry from the inside out.

Borrow ideas and apply them to iGaming: We need to start looking beyond our own industry for inspiration and ideas. This means attending conferences and events in other fields, reading widely, and actively seeking out new perspectives. When we find an idea that resonates, we need to ask ourselves how we can adapt and apply it to the specific challenges and opportunities of the iGaming industry. 

Study non-iGaming techniques: From marketing and advertising to data analysis and customer experience design, countless techniques and strategies used in other industries could be game-changers for iGaming. We need to make a concerted effort to study these techniques, understand how they work, and experiment with ways to incorporate them into our own practices.

Meet and hire non-iGaming people: If we want to bring fresh perspectives into the iGaming industry, we need to start by bringing in people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. This means looking beyond our usual hiring pools and actively seeking candidates from other industries who can bring new skills, insights, and ideas.

Listen to non-iGaming content: There is no shortage of content and ideas being shared across industries and platforms. It’s really important that we habitually consume content from outside our industry – whether it’s podcasts, blogs, videos, or social media feeds. By exposing ourselves to new ideas and perspectives, we can start to break down the walls of our industry echo chamber.

Open up to your peers and share ideas: Finally, we must foster a culture of openness, collaboration, and community within the iGaming industry. This means being willing to share our own ideas and insights with our peers, even if it means giving up some of our competitive edge in the short term. By building networks and relationships based on trust and mutual benefit, we can create a rising tide that lifts all boats.

Ultimately, this blueprint for innovation is about more than just the specific tactics and strategies we employ. It’s about fundamentally shifting our industry’s mindset from one of insularity and protectionism to one of openness, curiosity, and collaboration.

By engaging in dialogue with professionals both within and outside the iGaming industry, we can start to break down the barriers that have held us back for too long. We can learn from each other, challenge each other, and push each other to new heights of creativity and impact.

The path forward will not be easy, but the rewards will be immense. By losing our ego and embracing a new spirit of innovation, we can position the iGaming industry for a brighter, more dynamic future—one that benefits not just ourselves but also our customers and stakeholders.

Cultural and structural shifts required

Implementing this new blueprint for innovation will require more than just a few tweaks to our current practices. It will require a fundamental shift in our industry’s culture and mindset.

We need to cultivate a culture of openness, authenticity, and collaboration – one that values insights and ideas from diverse sources and perspectives. This means letting go of our ego and our need for control and embracing a more flexible, adaptable approach to innovation.

Of course, this kind of cultural shift is never easy. There will be resistance from those who are comfortable with the status quo and who fear the risks and uncertainties of change. Structural barriers may also exist, such as siloed departments or legacy systems that make collaboration and experimentation difficult.

To overcome these barriers, we need to start by building awareness and alignment around the need for change. We must engage in open and honest conversations with stakeholders at all levels of our organisations and work together to identify strategies and solutions to help us move forward.

This may require investing in new technologies, processes, or skills, but more importantly, investing in our people will require investing in them. By empowering our teams to be authentic, curious, and collaborative, we can create a culture that is truly conducive to innovation.

Will you join me?

The iGaming industry stands at a crossroads. We can continue down the path of insularity and stagnation, or we can boldly embrace a new era of innovation and growth.

By losing our ego, opening ourselves up to new ideas and perspectives, and fostering a culture of collaboration and experimentation, we can unlock the full potential of our industry and create value for all stakeholders.

This is not a journey that any one of us can undertake alone. It will require a collective effort and a willingness to challenge the status quo. But if we can come together as an industry and commit to this vision, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

I, for one, am ready to lead by example. Over the coming year, I will be putting these principles into practice by creating new products, incubating startups, and investing in the ideas and people that will drive our industry forward.

But I can’t do it alone. I need you—the innovators, disruptors, and dreamers—to join me in this mission. Together, we can create a rising tide that will lift all boats and carry the iGaming industry to new heights of success and impact.

The time for change is now. Let’s seize this moment and create a future we can all be proud of.

Dmitry Belianin is an experienced marketing strategist and leader in the sports betting industry. He has over 15 years of experience in marketing and gaming and a proven record in building global teams, growing profits, and implementing high-growth marketing, digital, and product development strategies within the biggest gaming companies. He has recently launched a new portfolio business via belianin.com.

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