Analytics software, which helps businesses track and then manage customers' behaviour, will form part of an extensive technology improvement program this year at New Zealand-based casino and entertainment business Sky City as it seeks to revive the business after a tough financial year.
Chief executive Nigel Morrison pledges to invest the lion's share of its $65 million maintenance capital expenditure in new gaming machines and improved internal technology, after a 49% drop in annual net income to $49.9 million for the year ended June 30.
The technology strategy would be piloted by chief information officer Mike Clarke who says at least $10 million would be spent on internal technology systems upgrades.
Technology improvement underpins the majority of the company's stated strategic priorities for 2008-09, which include the improvement of customer service and marketing and the need to maximise the potential of existing assets as well as the significant enhancement of IT and systems capability.
Clarke says that for gaming businesses, effective technology systems had become imperative to ongoing success and customer engagement.
Sky City's existing IT contracts, including managed services agreements with HP and IBM would all be assessed and either changed or extended on a "piece by piece" basis.
"As a business we are primarily dealing with people as customers and trying to match what they are doing," Clarke says.
"Improved performance will come through better understanding them — understanding what they do and why they do it and making sure that we are making the right offerings to the right customers at the right time."
Morrison says analytical software would not be focused on its high-roller customers, but would concentrate more on its volume business, such as gaming machine users. There would also be work conducted on systems to allow customers to apply voluntary caps to their casino spending.
Sky City has been under pressure in New Zealand from the Problem Gambling Foundation and will seek to implement technology that alerts a customer once they have lost a pre-determined amount of money.
Aside from the customer behaviour-related IT systems, Clarke says numerous other systems would be under the microscope in the next 12 months, including enhancements to its call centre systems and an ongoing major upgrade to its hotels and restaurants reservation systems.
While Tabcorp recently revealed a A$100 million computer and communications outsourcing contract was awarded to Electronic Data Systems and Telstra earlier this year, Clarke said no such deal was likely in the short term at Sky City.
"You never say never on those kinds of things because you are always looking at what are the right models," he says. "We already have a good relationship with HP and IBM so although we don't do the big complete outsourcing model, we are certainly keen to focus on our own core competencies and use experts to focus on the other areas."
— MIS Australia