“Many companies went wrong during digitalization”
In an exclusive conversation with us, Sten Andersen of AB Trav och Galopp, with expertise in General Management, Marketing, Innovation, and Communication, sheds light on the burgeoning role of new technologies and artificial intelligence in the gambling sector. Dive in to uncover the principles he employs to steer a team towards its goals.
As the Chief of Innovation & Future Affairs at AB Trav och Galopp, you lead the AI transformation program and explore emerging technologies. Can you share some specific initiatives or projects that have been particularly exciting or impactful in this role?
First of all, leading a transformation is about getting everyone involved, and in this case make sure AI is part of existing structures, forums and business plan. That is where I think many companies went wrong during digitalization. Some were left behind and eventually it became embarrassing to ask and learn and they lagged even further. We are working on a vast number of initiatives. At this point we have already launched large language model customer support, sportsbetting assistant for Q&As on the next round of soccer/football games in certain leagues plus an ai/robotics system for automation and efficiency.
How do you see AI shaping the future of the betting and gaming industry, and what innovative applications are you exploring within ATG?
AI will allow us to be must faster with everything, which opens up for more live/in game opportunities with realtime facts.
The way we will interact digitally will change a lot in everything from search to navigation. That will in turn change the conditions for how the betting and gaming industry act and market ourselves..
It will also support personalization in a way far beyond what we have seen now as well as support ommersive experiences. In this respect, we have to not only watch our for each other as competitors within our industry, but as well keep a close eye on other entertainment areas such as gaming/e-sport and more.
You’ve been involved in both large corporations and startups. What are some key differences in leadership and strategy that you’ve observed between these two types of organizations, and how do you adapt your leadership style accordingly?
That could be an interesting presentation – or book – in itself. My key outtake is, that most people work for either or their entire life. I think it is a shame, because there is so much to learn from one another. In start-ups and scale-ups you know everybody and as a leader you often participate in some of the operational work or projects yourself. Leading by example becomes important, leading the way and making people feel that you really know and value everybody’s contribution.. You can be much faster and direct with everything and it is easy to make everybody a part of your progress. At this stage, the empoyees are usually the most important “structure” capital. Consequently I think that you have to be more flexible with individuals. You set the culture very early, so put a lot of emphasis on. making sure that I reward desired behaviour.
In larger corporations, collecting information and spreading information is much more complex. Clarity in who does (and owns) what in the organization is essential and clear work- and information processes. I tend to more systemize and formally set time for follow up, whereas in smaller organisations I can do it mores as we go. It takes more effort for me to make sure that everybody’s work is “visible” and everybody feels noticed and important. Since there a more managerial layers, my leadership has to be more through others. Setting KPIs is important as well as making sure people do not suboptimize.
In both cases I put a lot of work into making sure that people know that there is an ambition with what they are doing, that they are important and that we need their good work. I also try to find out what really drives the individual and see we can benefit from that together.
During your tenure as Chief Marketing and PR Officer (CMO) at ATG, you led the company through a significant transformation from a horse betting company to a full-service online betting company. Can you elaborate on the challenges you faced during this transformation?
First of all we needed to redefine ourselves, so I started with working out mission, vision, position etc. A big challenge is to get everybody on board to something that is different from 30+ years before. It was can to involve people in a way so that they feel ownership, not just something that landed or their desk. That is a challenge in a big company with a long tradition. We of course needed new competencies within the new areas as well. And when all that is done and well, we had to present to customers and the market, that we are now a full service betting company and how we were better. Lots of challenges, but it has gone very well and we are the biggest within sports betting in our market today.
How do you assess the digital landscape evolve over the years, and what advice would you give to iGaming businesses looking to navigate this evolving landscape effectively?
AI, immersive and personal experiences, in social contexts and based on distributed ledgers are already growing. Unless we are competitive in these areas, next generations my satisfy the same needs for entertainment and excitement than what we are offering. And to be honest, how innovative have we been in our industry compared to others in entertainment?..
And of course, just like every other business, we have a big potential, and pressure, to leverage on the opportunities for increased productivity and efficiencies that AI braings.