Do you have a right technology partner for your lottery?

Gone are the days where lotteries need to invest a few million dollars to license a technology backbone system.  Once, a lottery venture considered being a capital-intensive project is today a more lucrative proposition with moderate investment and comparatively low risk. The credit goes to the latest mobile technology innovations and players’ willingness to adapt quickly to mobile lotteries.

It is true that lotteries no longer need those bulky terminals and loads of backend infrastructure like server farms, satellite network, tons of playslips etc., costing it 5-10 million dollars. But it is also true that a lottery, planning to start with a handful of money and not investing adequately in the right technology; is digging its own grave.

I have personally come across many lotteries that believe technology is nothing but few computers, a hundred odd handheld terminals, an Internet connection and some kind of “software”. Some lotteries even believe that all you need to run a lottery are few handheld terminals, you buy them and you are up and running the very next day. Such a setup should cost around $25,000 and that’s what you need to start a lottery and turn it into an ATM machine overnight. Unfortunately, lotteries do end up finding people/companies who can offer them everything at this cost. However, we all know the end result……..quite often, the lottery has a premature death even before it starts selling the tickets.

Technology plays a vital role in the success of a lottery.  Lotteries must give a lot of emphasis in selecting a technology partner that lays a strong foundation for the lottery to be successful.  Let’s get some insights into this.

Experience – The flexibility and robustness of technology lie in the hands of its management team. It is very critical for the lottery to know what level of experience the technology management team possesses in the industry. Lottery technology is not “one size fits all” approach. Each lottery is unique in its own way. I am yet to come across a reasonably successful lottery that is a replica of another successful lottery. The experience of technology helps bridge this critical gap. A novice technology partner would never be able to understand this important aspect, neither will the lottery owner.

Cost – I very well know that this is the decisive factor most of the time, which often leads to wrong selection. It is imperative to keep the cost of technology as low as possible but the lottery needs to understand that a compromise beyond a point is going to lay a weak foundation. Once the wrong technology partner is selected, it is an extremely costly affair to replace that with the right partner. Successful lotteries run on a simple principle - “Do it right for the first time”.

Ease-of-use – Whatever great the technology is, but if it is not user-friendly and does not adapt to the geographic factors, it will lead to catastrophe. This is more applicable in case the lottery is in the emerging markets. The technology must understand the intellectual level of its users e.g. agents, players etc. as well the local culture. Majority of the users are not tech savvy or have limited knowledge using computer systems. A technology that thoroughly understands this phenomenon is bound to have high portability of acceptance.

Infrastructure limitations – Majority of the technologies are designed for the perfect environment e.g. round-the-clock power, consistent Internet, skilled manpower, etc. It is often a challenge to make such technology work in the emerging markets where infrastructure is still under development. The technology that depends least on consistent infrastructure is bound to succeed in emerging markets.

Procrastination – Choose a technology that fits the lottery better instead the other way round. I have seen it quite often that the key decisions are delayed beyond a point because of the limitations with technology. Impending tasks precipitate a situation leading to chaos. This puts an adverse effect on the relationship between the lottery and technology partner. Usually, such situation gets worse over a period and eventually out-of-control.

Lotteries must evaluate the performance and experience of technology partner thoroughly before partnering with them, especially their experience with the kind of market the lottery is into. Success of a lottery significantly depends upon how well the technology partner understands the intricacies of local lottery culture and player psychology.

Especially, if you are a startup lottery you must ensure that the technology provider is capable of guiding you with proper planning and pre-implementation strategies before even you delve further into this. It is extremely critical for a startup lottery to get to “the state of readiness” before even launching the lottery and rolling out the technology.

This content was accomplished by Rahuldev Rajguru (CEO, LocusPlay) in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of any specific organisation or institute.