Angelo Dalli is one of the true innovators in the online gambling space. Dalli is the Founder and CEO of Bit8, an innovative gaming platform company designed in a highly scalable manner and offering an advanced bonus system using artificial intelligence.
Many years of rich experiences, education, dedication and hard work have brought Dalli to where he is today. To give you a taste of his outstanding credentials, Dalli has a Ph.D. in Computational Linguistics and Information Retrieval, he is an International Olympiad in Informatics bronze medallist, he speaks five languages, he has developed next-generation congestion charge systems, he’s a visiting Senior Lecturer at the University of Malta, he’s held senior positions in several online gambling companies and the list literally goes on and on.
In this edition of the CalvinAyre.com Innovation in iGaming Profiles we explore what the Bit8 gambling platform is capable of, what makes the platform so innovative, why operators love Bit8 and also take an insiders look into Dalli’s impressive background.
What makes the Bit8 Software truly unique and special?
We have taken ideas from different industries, including the financial services industry, and applied a lot of artificial intelligence technology to it. We make systems that allow operators to increase their revenue while reducing costs via the use of our technology. Basically, we offer players targeted bonuses, promotions and tournaments so operators will increase their revenue, while at the same time automating manual labor, making tasks easier to do and making them quicker. Our technology helps to find the points where operators can save money. This is what we call “the Bit8 double effect”- increasing revenue, reducing costs- and that’s why people love us.
Also, when we started Bit8, we had input from over fifty different product & country managers to make sure we address problems that the industry actually wants addressed.
How can you tailor bonuses to a particular player using the Artificial Intelligence?
In the beginning you don’t know anything about the player, so what we do is study the behaviour of players that are similar to this player and start offering a few recommendations. Then we monitor what the player is doing, whether they like a particular promotion or bonus that is offered or not. We then start to learn the pattern of behaviour of a player- once we’ve learned enough, which is typically taking a few days at maximum, we start targeting recommendations for that player and our system starts working towards that player’s behaviour. Its like having an army of VIP account managers, but for all players even including the new ones. Our “VIP” system is responsible for that awesome player experience- it is almost impossible for an operator to afford doing this manually.
Our system constantly monitors bonus offers, checks if the player is happy or not, will flag up inactivity, will check if player is on holiday. Our system checks the holidays of the country in which each player resides- therefore we can say, ok, this player was just on holiday and that’s why their level of activity just dropped. Or if it is a case that they have contacted customer support recently with a complaint and they are at risk of churn, how do you reactivate the player? So the system is constantly trying to forecast the behaviour, forecast what the customer wants and trying to meet it before they ask for it.
What about Mobile and Tablet?
We’ve been doing a lot of research, two or more years of development, on just mobile and tablet support. We support mobile for both casino and sportsbook on iPhone and Android devices and different adaptive content that also looks good on tablet. We have a middle layer technology that pushes out information and applications faster according to where the player is. Once did this, we discovered we could accelerate our mobile applications by four times faster than most other typical HTML5 applications. We also have technology that allows you to track players in real time (if they fill out the permission to allow you to do this) and you can send them offers based on their current location.
Without really designing it that much, we are also compliant with the US based regulations with geofencing, so we know when a player is currently within the boundaries of the state or even casino grounds.
Tell us about the time you spent with Google in Silicon Valley.
It was a short time, back in the year 2000, there was a lot of hype back then and it was exciting times. Silicon Valley had this exciting technological feel, it was quite interesting to meet all the different people doing research into cutting edge problems. There is also the nice confluence there of having a lot of venture capital, and as an entrepreneur, this is something that attracts me a lot.
Google also had some projects with MIT. Way back then they were doing research on mobile devices, on the earlier prototypes of what’s become the Android operating system, so that was also very interesting to see- like the touch screen interface which was quite new back then, and seeing where technology is going to lead. These experiences provided a background in determining where the industry is going and trying to give people products that they may not know right now that they actually need, but that they will need in the future.
Tell us about your involvement with the congestion charge management in the UK.
This was a company that created vehicle traffic software and we worked on software that scans the license plates of vehicles in real time. We also worked on congestion charge management in Malta and we had some systems in Australia as well- this gave us quite a lot of operational experience and experience with handling operation across different time zones in quite an independent fashion, because you obviously cannot be there all the time with offices that are so spread out.
At what point in your life did you decide to launch Bit8?
It was around four and a half years ago now and we could see that there was a lack of innovation on the platforms. A lot of companies were seeing platforms as just a source for recording transactions and that’s basically it. All the innovation was happening with third party add-ons, so one thing we identified as a need in the industry was to have one platform that can do it all. We did try to convince a few existing platform providers to add these features, but the replies were always, “yea, you would need to wait a few years for this to happen”, or, “no, that would be too expensive”, or, “that cannot be done with our current technology”, so at some point I decided, OK, lets do this ourselves. And we’ve been quite successful, in fact, in the last year we’ve got five of the top fifty online casinos as clients and we’re growing every month.
Advice for people who want to disrupt with new technology?
I think once you have a good idea for a new start up, and that idea is sound and valid, I like using the lean start up methodology – just make sure that you find out whether the company is going places or not. You need to believe in your idea and you need to really believe it in to be able to sell it and to make sure other people buy in into your vision. I think it is important to have a long term vision of where your company is heading, and what value your idea will provide. Once you’ve got all those ingredients, I think just be tenacious and make sure that you get it done.