Future Mobile Technology

Future Mobile Technology – What Changes in Tomorrow’s Devices?

Future Mobile Technology

As part of our continued look at mobile trends, we look at some of the biggest developments in the space of future mobile technology. In our previous article, we spoke about the trends of divergence, convergence, data and consumption. This time, we’ll focus more on the specifics of the next wave of technology in mobile and their implications in the mobile space. Three overlapping, and complementary, developments lie in 5G, edge computing and changes in how we interact with devices.

Implications of 5g

There is unquestionably a degree of uncertainty about 5G and what it means for everyday mobile users and opinions vary about what the impact could be. 5G has been termed as the G for industry – an enabler of lower latency which spurs on the Internet of Things, automation, sensors and autonomous vehicle. For the everyday mobile user, 5G seems to promise a significantly quicker 4G in effect. Here are some things which it promises nonetheless:

  • The Unknown – The new capacity will be filled by the unknown; richer apps, more video experience and better games. For 3G and 4G, we didn’t know what those next waves of apps were. Along came Snapchat, TikTok and mass subscription streaming for mobile.
  • Games Streaming – Lower latency, coupled with increasing device graphics and processing, will open up a new wave of gaming opportunities. Google’s Stadia is an example of a the new wave of subscription gaming platforms where the ‘heavy lifting’ is done in the cloud and devices essentially require a stable connection.
  • Video Consumption – 4G was seminal in increasing consumption of video across social media and facilitating video subscription platforms. 5G points to an increase in that consumption again, with more consistent quality of streams. The concepts of “downloading” and “buffering” shift to becoming increasingly obsolete words in the context of video.
  • Immersive Experiences – Augmented and Virtual Reality’s potential will be unlocked by the deployment of 5G. For both, high latency responses between can induce motion sickness and has been a hindrance in the capability to design great VR. 5G’s Ultra Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) presents an new canvas for developers to design new experiences that allow both technologies to be used more widely, and potentially for longer durations.

Processing on the Edge

Edge processing brings computation and data storage closer to the geographical location and reduces the need to transmit large volumes of data back to central data centres. This, at face value, has an interesting contrast to 5G which promises higher bandwidth for transmission of data and should by rights ease the process. In reality, these two developments are complementary and serve to reduce traffic on the network and improve the speed for the user on device.

What does this mean for mobile? As mentioned, processing on device eliminates latency. The efficiency is better from the perspective of performance and energy saving, which lends itself to great immersive experiences.

There is also another element with edge processing – privacy. A distributed network reduces the damage of a centralised database being compromised if a significant volume of insights are processed downstream and never make it there in effect. New capabilities and an increasing societal consciousness about privacy has also brought about federated learning – machine learning models for insights deployed straight to devices. By processing more personal data which is locally to the mobile, the same insights from customers can be derived in a more pseudonymised way while protecting the anonymity of individuals.

Mobile interfaces

Mobile devices haven’t changed all that much in appearance since the arrival of the aesthetic of the modern smartphone with touchscreens. While many have noticeably larger screens with quality and refresh rate improving, the lack of innovation in the interface or form factor begs the question why we should continue to upgrade devices as improvements become increasingly marginal. The quest for the new form factor has led to a series of failed devices with folding screens as the early models don’t prove robust enough or fall foul of user error. Outside of what simply amounts to a bigger screen when displayed, the way which we interact with the device remains the same.

Of more interest are developments away from the screen. While not strictly mobile, Amazon’s explorations of the Buds, Frames and Loop – a series of wearables which attempt to bring voice into the wider world. They are invite-only and beta products in effect – for Amazon, it’s as much a question of what kind of tasks people would do potentially within earshot of others and through voice as an interface.

Apple have historically waited to perfect their version of technology before launching to market, striking a sweet spot between timeliness and maturity while delivering a great user experience. Based on patents and an inadvertent leak in the official “golden master” of iOS 13, we have seen early indicators of AR glasses that will serve as a standalone headset in addition to an accessory to the iPhone.

The idea of AR/VR and voice being complementary to mobile experience has a direct parallel – mobile and television. According to Mary Meeker, whose annual trends we have written about before, the number of hours people spent on mobile surpassed TV last year for the first time ever – 226 minutes for mobile versus 216 minutes for TV. While they are competing in one sense, we are also aware that the amount of time people spend using two screens has increased dramatically with roughly 88% of Americans use a second device while watching TV.

What now?

As always, we have an interest in speaking with companies with capabilities in any of this future mobile technology. At Alpha Hub, part of our mission is to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies across Flutter Entertainment. If you’re working with innovative technologies that you think could support our global brands such as Paddy Power, Betfair, Sportsbet or FanDuel, we’d love to hear from you.

talent development

Values and attitude for growth

Interview with the Paula Țibre, General Manager of Betfair Romania Development

PART 2:  The attitude, mentality and values that bring sustainable growth to a business in a dynamic environment like the sports betting and gaming industry.

paula tibreQuestion: What is it that we’ve done right to be in a leading position within the industry?

I think it’s that we’ve never settled; we’ve always pushed forward, doing things better, creating better products and taking responsibility for where we are. But at the same time, I think we were very structured and disciplined and these two together usually create a tension. But it’s a good tension in my view. You can be very creative without knowing how to deliver or you could know how to deliver but if the things you are delivering are not the right ones there is no point in doing so. Therefore, what drives the results that we have is that balance between ensuring that we think differently with regards to the way we achieve an outcome, the fact that have a very clear outcome, and we also think about the customer.

 

Question: And do you think that giving people responsibility as well as trust, empowering them has helped with that?

 It’s funny talking about trust because we are all grownups here and I think trust is mandatory. In reality, it’s easier said than done. And yes, we do give people a lot of trust. But sometimes people understand trust through “I can do whatever I want”. That’s not really it, trust means believing that people will do the best they can, and they will challenge themselves to achieve the set outcome. At the same time, they will ask for support when they need to, and they will embrace that support to reach the outcome. So, we do give people a lot of trust and a lot of support to get where they want, and we show them a very clear goal as to where they should be for their career and for the business. I think you need to have a lot of clarity with regards to the boundaries that people can operate within, while giving them trust and empowerment. I think empowerment is stronger than trust.

 

Question: Can people learn creativity or discipline? Can you build that in the organization and help people grow?

I think you can, I think you already have those qualities. You just need to find the environment to express it. Everyone is creative, right? It just matters where they put their creativity. For example, someone that is highly technical is very creative with regards to the technical solution that they find. They might not be creative in other ways, but I think everyone has this potential and expresses their creativity in different ways. Similarly, you may think someone is very creative but lacks the discipline – really what those people do is they are disciplined where they find their passions and where they want to.

We are playing on people’s strengths, that’s obvious. We have unlimited capabilities that we still need to tap into. To conclude, I think it’s these two aspects that sustain growth.

 

Question: And how do you make sure – as much as you can – that people are in the right place, a place from which they can grow? I’m thinking of the learning plan and of the possibility of mentorship or Job Swing that we have in the company…

Indeed, we do have multiple programs to develop people’s abilities and help them get where they want to be. Programs are there to support us in a very disciplined way. But what makes it even more important is the openness to really have that conversation and to decide together where you would like to be in terms of your career. What I have found here is that while we have a very structured way of doing things and high standards of implementing certain programs like Job Swing – where we can go and shadow someone else or learn from someone else in a different role related to where our passion sits – at the same time what matters most is that the company has that openness to allow you to actually experience these things. A very clear example is that there are people in this company that had multiple roles in multiple departments which are not even similar. I think the company trusting people to learn is more important than any structured program that you can put in place to support that. And these structured programs have come because of those experimentations that people wanted to do in different roles and departments. So, at the end of day they have come from people. That’s very important. Everything we have here has come through what people really wanted.

 

Question: If success comes from people, how they’re doing the job, what mentality they have, what qualities do you think somebody who wants to work here, to contribute, should have besides technical knowledge?

You know we say that we work with the best. That’s why I think everyone that wants to work here should know where their best is and where they excel. The industry we work in is very dynamic and people coming in should be always wanting to achieve more, to deliver more, to be better every single day and to learn from others. I think that’s the most important thing. And to be very adaptable and very dynamic because there are so many ways of doing things and the industry changes so often that the way we have done something a year ago might not be the way we do it now. That flexibility and open-mindedness is extremely important. We also rely on people to do what they said they’d do. It means we’re taking responsibility for doing what we said we would do and pushing ourselves to do even more. I think that’s important as well. Ensuring that we have the outcomes that are really needed for our teams, for our business units, and always wanting to learn more learn about the customer, the trends in the industry, the new technologies and ensuring that we’re always up to speed with what’s going on. That’s how you can make the best decisions and the best proposals both in the world that we operate in but also in our internal environment [that mirrors that external environment].

At the same time, there isn’t a place where you could feel more satisfaction if you manage to be dynamic and to have results – it comes with a lot of rewards.

Interested in the first part of the interview with Paula, focused on what creates innovation in a sustainable business? You can find it here.

Ai event

Cluj AI Community Event – October 11th

As promised, we are launching our first event aimed at expanding our global community of start-ups, academic and corporate partners, this time in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The AI community event is free to join for all those interested. It is hosted in the Betfair Romania Development Cluj office on October 11th.

AI community event

The spotlight is on Artificial Intelligence; a set of technologies that are changing the world at a fast pace in ways that we are just beginning to understand. AI is of significant interest to Flutter, and it has a lot of potential for the sports betting and gaming industry. Through our panel of discussion, we want to get closer to understanding the opportunities and challenges in the field, so that we can accelerate our adoption of AI where we see the most benefits. Also, we want to connect with start-ups, academics, research communities and potential corporate partners to see opportunities for partnership.

The event is addressed to start-ups, other companies interested in the evolution of AI, investors and developers. It will also include a presentation of Flutter’s Alpha Hub innovation platform and an opportunity to network at the end.

We are honored by the presence of very special guests, experienced researchers and practitioners in the field of AI. In their own words:

Paul BRIE –  CEO at teleportHW, President of Spherick Accelerator

The founder and CEO of teleportHQ, an AI-powered code-generation platform, and co-founder of the JSHeroes community and JSHeroes international Conference. Paul has spent the past 25 years in the digital industry as a coder, manager, investor, and partner for various European start-ups and corporate innovation initiatives. The main focus of his work is to design comprehensive innovation strategies and to implement them into the core activities of private and public actors. As President of Spherik Accelerator, he is actively involved in the development of the local and regional entrepreneurship ecosystem. His role in the accelerator is to lead think-and-do programs, to create innovation process transfer opportunities, to build strategic private and public partnerships, and to support the creation of public policies that leverage the potential of deep and social technologies.

Răzvan FLORIAN – Director of the Romanian Institute of Science and Technology (RIST)

Răzvan Florian is leading one of the research groups of the Romanian Institute of Science and Technology, a non-governmental research institute that he founded as a more agile alternative to public research organizations. He is the author of several learning rules for spiking neural networks. The essential components of one of these rules, which has been developed through mathematical derivations and computer simulations, have been later found by neuroscientists in the brain. Components of this learning rule were implemented in hardware in the Loihi neuromorphic chip developed by Intel, allowing it to learn from rewards and punishments. Răzvan has also founded two companies, Arxia and Epistemio. He is now working on deep-learning-based approaches to automated web development and curiosity-driven learning.

 Adrian GROZA – Associate Professor at Intelligent Systems Group, Technical University of Cluj-Napoca

Adrian Groza is an associate professor at Intelligent Systems Group, Department of Computer Science, Technical University of Cluj-Napoca (Universitatea Tehnica din Cluj-Napoca). His current work involves research on logic and knowledge representation. More recently, his research has focused on: applying argumentation for conflict resolution in ensemble learning; the distinction between argument and explanation in dialogue; analyzing arguments conveyed by people in public arena regarding climate change. Previous research interests included the areas of non-monotonic logic, legal reasoning, safety assurance of software systems by means of argumentation, description logic, and their applications in artificial intelligence.

 Anca LAZĂR – Data Engineer at Paddypower Betfair

Anca has 6 years of experience as a Software Engineer, of which the last 6 months have been in Betfair Romania Development as Data Engineer. In her career, she’s gathered experience in working with several Databases, orchestration tools, AWS services (Redshift, S3, SageMaker, CloudWatch), mainly for data processing, processes orchestration and productionizing ML models.

 Sorin CIRCO – Senior Data Engineer at Paddypower Betfair

As Senior Data Engineer in Betfair Romania Development for a little over a year, Sorin’s working with Oracle, ETL’s (Talend), orchestration tools, AWS services (Redshift, Aurora(POD), S3, Amazon Sagemaker, Cloudwatch), mainly on data processing (for general & ML specific use), but also on implementing ML custom model. Before Betfair, he has gathered experience on Oracle DB, system & data architectures for integrated software, in industrial/constructions process monitoring, accounting & financial sectors.

 Mircea VĂDAN – Start-up Community Guest, Managing Partner at Activize

Mircea is managing partner at Activize, company with focus on product management consultancy for corporates, startups and accelerator programmes. He is working with products/startups teams on various topics such as idea validation, product shaping, product metrics, go-to-market strategy, business development and investments. Besides his work, he volunteers in startup communities and events like Cluj Startups, Startup Weekend Cluj, FreshBlood.Health, Fintech Camp and Cluj.AI.

 Ioana MARCHIȘ – Host, Technical Strategy Analyst at Flutter

Ioana is a Strategy Analyst in the Emerging Technologies team at Flutter, with 10 years’ experience in software development. She investigates technology trends and their application at Flutter, makes recommendations based on research and support innovation initiatives, such as the Alpha Hub platform.

If you have any questions about the event or the work Alpha Hub is doing with startups, don’t hesitate to get in touch or click here to register. 

Alpha Hub Start-up Events – Expanding our Global Community

To grow our network and support the global start-up community, we’re excited to announce that Alpha Hub will be running a series of tech start-up events across some of Flutter’s technology centres including London, Dublin, Melbourne, Porto, Cluj and Edinburgh.

Our vision is to grow Alpha Hub into a global network that is greater than the sum of its parts and stronger than any one individual location. By leveraging the global scale of Flutter, we can facilitate conversations with the most appropriate people worldwide; like introducing a start-up from Romania to one of our brands in the US or connecting an investor in Dublin to a start-up in Melbourne.

We will kick off the series at our Betfair Romania Development offices in Cluj-Napoca, Romania on October 11th, where we’ll have a panel of speakers talking about the latest developments in AI. (More information here).

These start-up events are a great opportunity to find out more about our plans for Alpha Hub, and how we support the start-up ecosystem, including:

  • Front Door to Flutter Entertainment – Are you a start-up with technology that you think might be of interest to Flutter or one of our global brands, but you don’t know how to find the best person to speak to? The Alpha Hub team will be able to put you in touch with the right people, either by joining one of our formal scouting programs, participating in one of our pitching events, or just an introduction to the relevant team.
  • Mentoring, support or feedback – Either through one of our formal programs, or on a more ad hoc basis, we can provide feedback and guidance to start-ups. We also work with a network of external start-up mentors who can help take your business to the next level.
  • Join our start-up database – If you’re interested in staying up to date with the latest developments in emerging technology and want to see which topics are of most interest to Flutter, join our start-up database. We’ll also reach out to you if we think you’ll be a good fit for any of our future programs.
  • Connect to our wider network – At these events you be able to introduce your business to us and network with like-minded entrepreneurs and technologists. Where appropriate, we’ll gladly make introductions to our wider network of investors, advisors, corporates or other start-ups.

We’ll also be sharing our research into specific areas of emerging technology, like AI, blockchain and future mobile trends and discussing the latest developments in these areas with founders, investors and academics.

If you’re interested in joining, drop us an email and we’ll keep you updated on events in your local area.

If you’d like to be more actively involved in helping organize these events, i.e. presenting, hosting or promoting we’d love to hear from you.

Betting On Sports Conference 2019

The 4th edition of the Betting on Sports Conference ran in the London Olympia from the 17th to the 20th September. In total, 3500 delegates attended seminars, presentations and panel discussions from over 300 industry experts. There were also 120 industry exhibitors with stands across the event. Given the growth of the conference and growing audience internationally, the next European edition will be run out of Barcelona. The conference presents a great opportunity for us to reflect on some of the major trends ongoing in the industry right now. We have covered some of the major talking points from the 3 day event below.

The Repeal of PASPA and the US Opportunity

With the US now deregulating gambling on a state-by-state basis, opportunity is presenting itself to international operators who are heading towards the new market. Europe is very much a red ocean – intense competition, increasing taxes and growing regulation is affecting bottom lines of incumbents in the market and making it difficult for newcomers to take market share. The conference comprised of a lot of technical sessions giving insight into the considerations for smaller operators trying to enter the US market. As a result of this, it is estimated that 90,000 new jobs will be created in the market. Everyone is looking for talent – regulators and operators are looking for technical compliance roles which are in huge demand. The response to this is people being shipped in from EU for half-year durations as only 6-month visas are being issued in many cases. This is a tactical not a strategic solution.

The overall view from CEO panel is that unless you are big and have capital, stay out of US right now. The are several challenges to overcome in working through state-by-state regulation and in certain states, particularly high entry costs and subsequent taxes. While to date the US customer is proving to be far more brand loyal than in EU or Australia, they come with a much greater cost of acquisition than in both territories. Acquisition costs can be greater than $500 circumstantially.

As far as the shape of the market, there are some interesting differences in sports followed. While the major league sports were all to be expected, tennis is likely to be the 4th highest revenue stream in the near-term overtaking NHL. Early on retail is prominent for a number of reasons – approximately 50% of payments are failing in the US right now and retail in the US is more of an entertainment location relative to retail in the UK as transactional. Into the medium term, In-Play will start to become more prominent in the sports betting landscape, something which isn’t available over the counter.

Other Markets of Interest

Latin American countries are opening for sports betting and the approaches adopted by operators vary to enter these emerging markets. Many are opting to partner with existing companies and supplementing offerings with a land-based presence for visibility.

Columbia is the only fully regulated online gambling market in LATAM at the moment but other countries such as Brazil and Mexico are following suit. The existing regulations in place in Brazil and Mexico are outdated and, in most cases, it does not cover online betting. The common opinion was that these markets are high potential and expected to grow at a faster rate. Panellists suggested that LATAM markets would be a natural extension for European operators. There are 19 licensed operators in Columbia currently.

Africa is an emerging market in the gambling space. Logistically, many parts of the continent have a well-established mobile payments and online banking options. That mobile ecosystem will make payments for an online presence significantly more convenient.

India presents an interesting opportunity as a nation with a fanatical cricket population and heavy mobile penetration – more than 100 million mobile users tuned in to Hotstar, an on-demand streaming service owned by Disney, on June 16, the day India and Pakistan played against each other. The question of monestising that demographic remains the most pressing question but access to them through mobile channels is certainly there.

M&A and Market Complexion

The main reasons for mergers and acquisitions from the large players to date are as follows:

  • Market Access/Localization
    • Need to be local enough be accepted
    • Need to overcome language and cultural barriers
  • Cost efficiency
  • Adding different expertise/products to the portfolio
  • Faster time to market

Increasing regulation accelerated mergers and acquisitions in gambling as firms seek critical mass to offset the rising operational costs and erosion of margin. Mid-tier players continue to vanish as they can’t handle the regulatory pressure.

The US market is underpinned by equity investors – there are a number of equity investor looking to grab investment opportunities in betting. Currency devaluation also helped M&A’s as it brought down the valuation of assets in weaker currency states. They are also looking out at cheaper assets in Europe due to currency devaluation and tighter regulation impinging on market value of operators.

Data is an Opportunity

Data is a significant enabler for the next wave of insights and products in this industry. The way which we procure data can change into the future with the likes of computer vision automating swathes of what is currently manual.

It can give richer insights and more data points makes for better pricing accuracy and the ability to run more markets fed with dynamic datapoints. Machine learning will underpin a huge amount of discovery within these newly available datasets.

As part of the merger landscape, there is a growing concern about implications of monopolies amongst data providers. There is ongoing litigation regarding exclusivity of access to data for football in England currently. While these data providers are improving their suite of products and the depth of their offerings, competition is of the utmost importance to the industry for keeping pricing and access reasonable for operators.

What now?

As always, we have an interest in speaking with companies with capabilities or technology in any of these spaces. At Alpha Hub, part of our mission is to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies across Flutter Entertainment. If you’re working with innovative technologies that you think could support our global brands such as Paddy Power, Betfair, Sportsbet or FanDuel, we’d love to hear from you.