Data Analytics: Growing Your Business in a Volatile World

by Andrew Cardno

Despite the sequence of turbulent events and mandated closures, 2021 was likely a strong year with industry revenue up 20% over 2019. Many events that occurred since 2020 are persisting and evolving, and 2022 seems to be kicking off with several external factors already hitting the industry, ranging from a universal shortage of labor across all areas of business to a full-on war in Europe and gas prices hitting $6 per gallon.

Impacts on Partners and Patrons

Contrary to the industry’s experience of significant growth last year, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that this may not have been the case for some vendors and many players; just as growth is unforecastable, the same is true of the economic situation. Furthermore, many of those who have not yet been significantly burdened by the events may eventually be, and there is no accurate way of determining how long or to what extent these effects will impact businesses and individuals.

These third-party market forces may have a downstream impact on business that is difficult to predict. While the industry may not have been negatively affected in 2021, there is no telling what the future will bring and how it may affect tribal casinos.

A World Without Reliable Forecasts

Facing no less socio-economic uncertainty now than at the start of 2021, an important question follows the industry’s remarkable growth – what will 2022 and 2023 look like, and how do you manage business when it is impossible to predict what is going to happen? From an analytics perspective, gaming revenue in 2021 was astonishing, especially during such a turbulent year of events – the influx was so unusual that it broke forecast models. In the presence of ongoing external factors and the inevitability that more will arise, it is crucial to build infrastructure that prepares tribal gaming operations for the volatility of future events.

Although it may sound great to strategize and implement a plan attempting to restore tribal casinos to the state of normalcy from its pre-pandemic era, accept that this former reality is merely a fictional ideality that now exists as a fond memory because the environment has fundamentally changed, and so must the industry. Instead, the strategies adopted to sustainably thrive in the future of the industry should include carefully scrutinized analyses. Reflect on which specific areas of your organization were impacted by the turbulent events, assess the efficacy of the responses and recovery measures taken, and retrospectively establish strategies and contingency plans to better respond to future similar events.

In a world where the past is no longer reliably useful for predicting the future, how do you gain a competitive advantage in the gaming industry? Tribal operations should consider formulating a dynamic loop of decision-making processes by first analyzing and observing the emerging transformation of data in the operational environment to recognize events as they begin to unfold. Next, develop and challenge models derived from the observations to better comprehend what is or is possibly happening; thus, leading you to challenge unconscious bias and assumptions while dynamically assessing situations. Using the models, formulate hypotheses and decide which actions are most likely to yield ideal results, then proceed with the test.

Building Hypothesis-Based Innovations

Adopting non-linear processes such as the dynamic loop increasingly improves a tribal casino’s flow of actionable data as each hypothesis tested in response to emerging data progressively deepens the data discovery. This process of treating the decided upon action as a hypothesis rather than a final commitment inherently leads a team of analysts to challenge the status quo while encouraging creativity and innovative ideas. Furthermore, the use of this non-linear agile framework empowers and transforms an analytics team into the analytical innovators that, through discovery of measurable and actionable data, can identify both problems and solutions not yet obvious to a business.

By strengthening all areas of the operation in their continuous data discovery, analytical innovators function as the catalyst of a tribal business’ growth and competitive advantage extracting meaningful value from data – telling stories that spark the development of transformational business strategies. Moreover, these analytical innovators have two particularly invaluable capabilities influencing an organization’s ability to dominate the surrounding market. First, the ability to effectively adapt and discover new actionable data prompting responses to complex, difficult to model markets is made possible by the uninhibited creativity of an insight mindset that fuels the reveal of major breakthroughs, such as by detecting gaps within unconventional data sources or identifying patterns hidden within data to unveil otherwise imperceivable conclusions. Second, through the application of the aforementioned skills credited to analytical innovators, the ability to swiftly find data-driven responses to implement immediate action ahead of rivals within volatile, competitive environments.

Unlock the Power of Innovation

The recommendations on how to respond to the unpredictable nature of inevitable external factors and turbulent events by developing sustainable infrastructure are heavily predicated on the need to implement innovative data analysis frameworks to procure real-time, actionable data. This is because data is the core asset of an entire organization and should be at the forefront of operation leading decisions.

It is remarkable how drastically a modernized approach to the creation of data-driven responses can improve a tribal organization’s growth and patron loyalty even in this crazy volatile world we find ourselves in – from improving the flow of information, discovering processes that can be automated to reduce costs and alleviate stress in the present workforce shortage, identifying the effects of externalities to develop actionable data-driven responses before a casino is impacted, to helping the player development team improve player relationships by providing a detailed story of each player’s preferences broken down into segmentations of the finest grain of data available.

Andrew Cardno is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Quick Custom Intelligence (QCI). He can be reached by calling (858) 299-5715 or email [email protected]