The Lottery

Of Growth

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By Phil Adcock, Technical Director

This Article Was Originally Published in iNTERGAMINGi Magazine, January 2016

The newspapers this week have been quite interesting. The US upset North Korea by flying a B-52 bomber close to its border, after claims they successfully detonated a h-bomb. Experts were upset after a mountain lion was shot in Idaho with a set of fully formed teeth growing out of its forehead, and actor Sean Penn upset nearly everyone else by tracking down drug dealer “El Chapo” and interviewing him three months before the authorities managed to.

In the UK, a man in Bristol ordered a Kindle and received a patient’s tumour sample instead. Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany was in a plane that fell off a runway and in Wales a monkey took a selfie.

In other news, lottery fever gripped both sides of the Atlantic. The largest lottery jackpot in US history rolled over to more than $1bn after the jackpot value was driven up by long queues outside lottery-ticket vendors. The UK national lottery website crashed under a furore of last minute betting, after Camelot declared the record £66m jackpot so large that someone was definitely going to win it.

"The chances of a win in the UK national lottery stand at close to one in 14 million. This is eclipsed by US media reports that the likelihood of winning theirs was one in 292 million."

To a rational person, the odds of winning the lottery are terrible. The chances of a win in the UK national lottery stand at close to one in 14 million. This is eclipsed by US media reports that the likelihood of winning theirs was one in 292 million. Let’s face it, the odds of success are so infinitesimally small that you would be better off going to the pub and playing the slots. With your feet. It’s like asking you to choose between having dinner with Pol Pot or Genghis Khan. Which ever one you choose, there’s only a miniscule chance that you will get to leave without the dinner fork jammed between your eyebrows.

But the truth is that sensible or not, rational people play the lottery. I certainly do and if I had been in the US I would probably have had a go at that one too. It’s the pay small and win big mentality. Almost too good to be true, but I’ll have a go anyway.

Our company, Domicilium, has worked with gaming operators since 1998 and in our line of business, I’m very grateful to the rational people who like to place the odd bet. I’m also very grateful that the gaming industry is beginning to mature, with investors and shareholders scrutinising performance.  I’m grateful because a maturing industry plays to our strengths. Whilst we are well known for our traditional datacentre and network business, we also specialise in assisting gaming companies to implement processes within their business to manage growth successfully. In point of fact, this has been one of our fastest growing services over the last 18 months.

Gaming companies are facing pressures like never before and are having to significantly up their game to maintain margins. The implications of the UK authorities introducing licensing and swiping 15% of revenues is another good example. Standing still could be considered an achievement and this has inevitably lead to some of the recent mergers and acquisitions the have been announced. Might is right. There is a certain logic to this way of thinking up to a point, although anyone who has actually been through one will tell you what a painful process this can be. From a management standpoint this usually involves establishing a project to address the tricky issue of integrating duplicated software systems, databases and formats and establishing the processes necessary to make the new business work harmoniously. This is fundamental to establishing economies of scale and is no easy feat.

The fundamentals are important. Gaming is not just about having great software, bonuses and a marketing team. Having a set of processes in place which allow you to manage the business, identify and report key information and foster good communication are increasingly relevant in today’s world. The industry is well used to integrating software systems and using content from other providers. However an area which is largely ignored inside and outside of the gaming sector is the coherent management of IT infrastructure. There are many disciplines that need to be understood, managed and well documented in order to build both an effective and cost effective infrastructure team. Although these problems have been well understood since the late 1980s, this remains the achilles heel of many organisations.

"Very few companies have the processes and expertise in place to ensure that a successful marketing campaign does not introduce total chaos into the smooth running of the business."

The obvious candidate for analysis in this short article is capacity planning. Very few companies have the processes and expertise in place to ensure that a successful marketing campaign does not introduce total chaos into the smooth running of the business. The normal approach to capacity planning appears to be to throw in the largest piece of kit that can be acquired at the eleventh hour when problems start to be seen. An experienced and well structured organisation will build an appropriately sized price of kit long before problems manifest themselves. This is a question of understanding statistical trends and strategic plans within the business and marrying them into a coherent procedural approach.

To illustrate a practical example of the benefits, consider the straightforward example of a B2B arrangement between operators. It is well understood that it is often more cost effective for operators to buy their content from others rather then going to the expense of developing it themselves. As the content owner, try entering into a B2B arrangement with an established operator, without being able to demonstrate that you have the processes established to manage your platform. If you can’t then nine times out of ten you’re too big a risk and it simply won’t happen.

Today’s message? Managing the growth of your business doesn’t have to feel like a lottery. Capacity planning is one of many challenges that the infrastructure team need to become proficient in managing. For many years Domicilium has helped companies author, build, implement and deliver the procedures and work practices that enable infrastructure teams to succeed.



Phil Adcock is the founder and chief technology officer of Domicilium Group, a leading data centre and network provider headquartered on the Isle of Man. He is a graduate of Lancaster University, UK, holding a Ph.D in computer science. Phil is a chartered fellow of the British Computing Society and a member of the Internet Society and Association of Computing Machinery.