Shoreditch: Transforming our Customer Experience
We’re excited to be one of the lead sponsors of Digital Shoreditch 2015 and to be able to showcase some of our innovations at our Open House event on Monday, 11 May.
Not many people think of William Hill as a tech company but our Online business’s hub in Shoreditch is rapidly making a name for itself by launching new products and tapping into some of the latest technology around.
The opportunity for technical innovation at William Hill is great. Our industry has been disrupted many times by innovations such as betting exchanges, online poker, in-play betting, mobile and social gaming, and there will be more to come. Our growing presence in the Shoreditch technical community is helping us differentiate our product and reduce dependence on one-size-fits-all suppliers, so we can respond rapidly to market opportunities as they arise and be the disruptor ourselves.
Online’s Shoreditch team are working on some of our key innovations. First there’s our new casino bonus engine. The online casino market is highly competitive and large operators offer a myriad of play-linked bonuses to compete for customers. While our proprietary Vegas platform has been a huge success to date but we can make it even stronger by developing our own bonus engine to compete at the highest levels on new customer acquisition. We will be able to offer our Vegas customers the most attractive and personalised deals, linked to the widest range of customer behaviours, and let them track their earnings with clear real-time updates online.
The Shoreditch team have also been instrumental in developing a unique responsible gambling feature called ‘Customer Controls’. William Hill is a strong advocate for responsible gambling and we want to put the right tools in the hands of our customers. Our new feature allows customers to personalise their limits by product, day of the week and time of day – for instance, if a customer doesn’t want to be able to play casino games on Friday and Saturday nights between 9 pm and midnight, we can now offer them that choice on our website. This is currently live on the “Games” tab of williamhill.com and will be introduced across a wider range of products in due course.
The Shoreditch office is a great base to collaborate with interesting technology companies, to help us build innovative apps or products. We worked with a third-party dev house called “Red7Mobile” on our unique darts app, which we launched during the World Darts Championship in December 2014. With this app, customers can bet on darts in-play using a casino-style interface (sliding chips onto a green baize) and follow the action in real time, with darts flying through the air and the crowds cheering. The next phase of the app will enable customers to bet on where the next dart will land by simply touching the appropriate area of a dartboard graphic on their tablet or smartphone.
The next stage in mobile is wearables and we were the first to launch an app in the UK market for the Apple Watch.
There’s other clever technology out there too. The Oculus Rift – a virtual reality headset for 3D gaming – costs a couple of hundred pounds. But Google has brought out a more cost-effective solution called the Google Cardboard. It costs around £8 and is a pair of cardboard and plastic goggles, with a slot for your smartphone, giving an instant 360-degree virtual reality experience. Find out more about our revolutionary new horseracing prototype called “Get In The Race” using Google Cardboard. We’re working on this with a local development house in Shoreditch, Unit9.
The Online team is passionate about encouraging and nurturing the growth of new ideas. Our internal Global Challenge (led by Jamie Hart, Group Director of Innovation & Customer Experience) was held in April 2015 to tap into expertise and knowledge that already exists within the company. We were really pleased with the response to the challenge and five teams made it through to the four-day “hackathon” in Shoreditch, including employees from Las Vegas, Tel Aviv, Gibraltar, Leeds and Australia, judged by our CEO, James Henderson. The winning concept from Steena Madsen and her team demonstrated how we could enter a new high-growth business category (social gaming) by leveraging our existing real money products and customer base.
We want to attract more start-up technology businesses and entrepreneurial talent to engage with our in-house teams. London boasts some of the finest tech minds in the world – with many integrated firmly into the Shoreditch community. We want to ensure that the brightest people with the best ideas have a chance to work with us. Our goal is to create an enjoyable and memorable experience our customers love and trust. Everything we do feeds into that and the growing tech talent we are nurturing here in Shoreditch is available to support the global business wherever it’s needed.