Investing in data and AI to drive our success

Françoise Russo, Chief Information Officer, Tabcorp

Françoise Russo, Chief Information Officer, Tabcorp

While it almost goes without saying that technology underpins everything we do at Tabcorp, investing in technology also results in projects and roles that are more fulfilling for our teams, deliver for our customers, and help us to get a competitive advantage.

Wagering is a popular pastime in Australia and companies in the sector must continually innovate and evolve to attract and retain customers.

Two recent initiativesin this area - introducing personalization in marketing and developing AI technology to expand our product offering - highlight the importance of investing in technology to drive commercial and strategic success and deliver for customers.

Looking at the personalisation example first, our TAB wagering business (like many companies) hada large number of systems that were not all joined up.

We didn’t have a real-time view of customer behaviour and weren’t able to send timely, tailored offers based on what an individual customer was doing and their preferences.

To illustrate the kind of offers I am talking about, let’s say you regularly bet on Sydney races on a Saturday, then we might want to send you a personalized offer before you’ve placed your first bet for the weekend.

Similarly, we may want to send you an offer after you’ve walked into a TAB agency or racecourse.

We can now do that, but to get to that point required significant work and investment in the technology that underpins our Sales and Marketing systems (Salesforce and Adobe). And for us, as the only large-scale operator in Australia with retail and digital channels, the challenge to execute this in a way that aligned with our omnichannel approach was significant.

Initially, we reconfigured our data pipes to ensure we could get a real-time view of customer behaviour across all channels.

Then we took the decision to go all-in with the Adobe Experience Platform as the system to drive our personalized and data-driven marketing efforts. The implementation of this was a large and significant effort across business and technology teams.

And most importantly of all, in using these the opportunities to deliver on our purpose of excitement with integrity, we can see the real-life, real time impactsthat our work has on our business and our customers.

For our Technology workforce these are exciting projects to work on – where data, AI and marketing come together - and will help make us an employer of choice for technology professionalsas we continue to invest and develop new programs of this nature.

The commercial results have been great - we’ve generated more than $140m in incremental turnover as a result of this initiative. It has also led to new ways of working under an agile system that has given employees across Technology and our Wagering & Media business the ability to cycle through cross functional agile squads formed to deliver particular initiatives.

The success of this initiative saw the team driving this from the Wagering & Media Marketing, Customer and Product function win Adobe’s Experience Maker of the Year award in the Asia-Pacific region.

The other initiative we’ve been speaking about recently that’s been driven by technology is the implementation of a simulator to help us expand our product offering on the NFL - the main professional men’s football leaguein the US and an increasingly popular betting sport in Australia.

Tabcorp’s Wagering & Media business has a US sport strategy that has seen it acquire media and commercial rights to the NFL, NBA and MLB (US men’s professional baseball) in Australia.

The majority of US sport takes place in early mornings in Australia, allow us to carry it on our Sky broadcasting network beforein the period before the Australian racing day has begun.

The solution we developed for this was an AI-driven simulator - created by our Trading team - that can play out a given game 10,000 times in half a second and generate the probabilities of a given event occurring(a team winning, a particular play happening, or a player scoring). It is uses cloud-basedAWS capacity to host and run the simulations.

That level of automation allows us to accurately price twice as many markets (individual events to bet on within a game such as the final score, margin or individual player performance) and we are preparing to offer 120 individual markets on a game as opposed to 60, significantly extending our customer offer.

Our Technology team built the infrastructure for the simulator and, as part of a cross-functional team, configured it to integrate into the traders’ system using Java script.

As well as the expanded range of markets, this technology helps create more accurately priced markets and therefore a better customer offering at record speeds. It also enhances our live betting capability to prepare for any expansion in that area in the event of deregulation.

But as with thepersonalisation example, the benefits go beyond the commercial and strategic. We’ve created the capacity to do this effectively with internal teams and partners and we have explored using a similar approach with NBA and tennis markets down the track.

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