Declan Harkin Talks About The Future Of Retail

Declan Harkin, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, International, talks about IGT’s focus on innovation to lead the lottery industry’s future growth.

Q: Tell us about IGT’s approach to innovation.
A: IGT is focused on maintaining a deep pipeline of innovative solutions to help the industry grow and “win in a new world,” as seen at the recent World Lottery Summit in Singapore. “Win in a new world” was the show’s overall theme, and we believe that we win by listening intently to our customers, delivering on our commitments, identifying new trends and technologies that can be quickly translated into our gaming sectors, and employing trials and R&D to implement the technologies behind the ideas.

Q: We heard a lot of talk of “IGT is listening” in Singapore. What did you mean by that? 
A: IGT’s pioneering “Customer First” philosophy was on display during the 2016 World Lottery Summit in Singapore and our primary message across all of our presentations was “IGT is listening.” We believe that only through open collaboration with lottery customers and knowledge of future trends can we lead the industry to sustainable, responsible growth.

Q: What’s your view about the future of retail in the lottery industry? 
A: I firmly believe that retailers will remain the primary sales drivers of lottery in the future. The future of shopping will be to embrace two broad new genres, the first being experiential, which is creating a look and feel of and engagement with products. The second is convenience and top-up shopping. We must facilitate impulse purchases for retailers and work to create frictionless transactions for players.

Today’s players want gaming experiences that are entertaining and convenient. Retailers need simplicity and revenue drivers. Lotteries want efficiency and support across all areas of the business. IGT’s goal is to offer the technology and solutions that address each of these key requirements, and this is where IGT’s focus on the “Big Four” comes into play: business intelligence (data), bricks-and-mortar retailers, consumer engagement, and engaging content.

Q: We saw a big focus on data at your booth; tell me about that. 
A: There is a never-ending appetite for real-time data, and we need to transform the enormous amount of data we have into actionable insights that can be visually digested and acted upon. In addition, suppliers must adapt to the needs of increasingly sophisticated retailers and provide them with the solutions and tools that make it easier to offer lottery. We need to be relevant and conform to retailer requirements.

Q: You had a second room at WLS. Why?
A: We wanted to achieve two things: first, to present cutting-edge retail trends that enable future industry growth, and second, to allow lottery customers to experience our full array of current solutions.

The “Future of Retail” booth displayed several innovations that use camera technology to deliver real-time analytics. Personal digital signage, directional sound, embedded cameras, and near-field communication tagging, to name a few of the highlights, all provide lottery decision-makers with the data they need to better service players and retailers.

In the main product suite, our subject matter experts were constantly on their feet and engaging with customers. The traffic was heavy and steady, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive with regard to how IGT solutions can help drive sales and improve overall business performance. From central systems, back-office applications, and a full suite of performance intelligence to flexible, innovative points of access and creative instant and interactive games, IGT conveyed the authentic pioneering spirit of the company and the passion of its people.

Q: What can we expect to see at the EL Congress in June?
A: Well, I’m not giving the game away just yet, but what I can tell you is that the industry’s response to our approach in Singapore was overwhelmingly positive, so we’ll be looking to build on that.

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