James King lands CEO role at Robin Reed-founded SaaS start-up

The main objective of Flows, a new company launched by former GiG CEO, Robin Reed, is to absorb data from its partners and facilitate the data being presented in any selected format, be it to the front-end, via Slack message or any other API.

James King, former Director of Sales for Gaming Innovation Group and now CEO of the start-up, speaks candidly to G3 about a ‘legacy mentality’ which has held the igaming industry back compared to other digital verticals.

To embrace today’s digital revolution, James believes stakeholders should open APIs to one other and open-source more technology for the betterment of all.

Could you tell us more about Flows?

Flows is an innovation platform that empowers your organisation to innovate and accelerates digital and technical delivery. Flows has been designed to make innovation accessible to everyone, by integrating with any API or data stream (such as Kafka and RabbitMQ) you point at it.

Flows learns your data in realtime to then allow you to customise what you do and how you interact with that data. Using the Flows intuitive none coding interface, your organisation can create applications, features, workflows and more. Innovate, empower and accelerate with Flows.

Does the iGaming industry have a legacy mentality?

Technology is the core for any digital business and online gambling is no exception. For established companies in the gaming industry, this technology was built eight, 10, 15 years ago – and that core foundation is still there.

As much as this has been built on with new innovations and a multitude of new technologies, there is a foundation of legacy which makes it harder to adapt and be agile.

In a space like gaming which is incredibly fast paced, especially now due to Covid which has seen markets regulate at an accelerated rate and a land grab from operators and suppliers looking to certify in these new markets, this needs to improve.

Certification is rarely simple, and it doesn’t matter which platform you use or the technology you possess in-house, it’s still an arduous process to certify. It consumes a huge amount of your tech teams’ resources. A lot of the time, this will then push other projects further down the delivery roadmap.

Ultimately, projects must be triaged in line with resources to deliver them, thus why smaller technical feature changes or application development are not going to take precedence over elements of certification that allow you to go live in, for example a US state.

Part of the reason for certification being such a heavy lift (technically speaking) is because legacy technologies or technologies with legacy cores and then a multitude of patches are far less agile and not easily agnostic.

Comparative to other verticals in digital such as entertainment, you see the speed at which those companies can move, and we seem to be significantly slower comparatively. In part it’s because, understandably, we have become quite siloed as businesses.

There is limited to no sharing of best practice, and this means it is harder to grow as a wider industry and create a strong igaming ecosystem from which we can all thrive from being a part of.

Other sectors are more open with each other. Nobody is or should give each other their absolute secrets of success but they do and have opened APIs for example, making it easy to connect. With Flows, when we’re looking outside of gaming to connect with things such as Slack, we can do it quickly.

The APIs are documented so you can go in, get a feed, plug it in and away you go. This is massively helping us to build our interactive app store of third parties that partners can benefit from (whether it’s tools like slack through to weather api’s).

Slack understands this is great for their ecosystem because more people are going to sign up and it is no threat, we have got it. If you turn to certain providers in this space and asked them to open up to you, it’s not an easy “yes” and the time taken to integrate systems can be down to politics far more than it’s down to technology’.

In a sense, it’s quite an easy thing to do, but the issue is the willingness of people to do it and scepticism of why it is being asked for. It doesn’t make everything as holistic as it could or should be.

We are in a digital revolution and opening APIs to each other and open-sourcing more technology is just one step towards embracing it.

Do the high walls within gaming harken towards a legacy mentality?

I think so. The mentality is what is often supporting the not sharing of best practice. The unwillingness to be a little more open has produced instances where potential clients that want to work with us have other partners who aren’t willing to send us needed information and make things easy.

Inevitably, it will happen in the end but what should take hours from our point of view and technically, can take weeks of discussions. This has nothing to do with the technical ability of the systems, but someone being willing to open up.

We can’t keep going forwards like this – it’s too restrictive. In an extreme case, we’re seeing an arm of Disney coming into the space with a war chest in the hundreds of billions and could easily go and buy Evolution, for instance. Imagine that combined power.

To compete with that, we need more togetherness. Amazon is sending rockets to space – they were a bookseller. Anything can happen. Don’t think your space is secure. I’m pretty sure those involved in that sector were never expecting Amazon to come in and do what they have done.

You can’t sit on your stubbornness and do things the same old way because it’s not the same old environment. We’ll just be left in the dark if that is the sort of mentality moving forwards.

Grand Theft Auto V has an in-game casino for GTA Online. If you merge those two worlds, video games and betting, how do you compete with that? Ask a 20-year-old whether they’d rather bet within Grand Theft Auto or Gonzo’s Quest – as much as we are familiar with these great titles over the years – I’m confident they won’t pick the Book of Ra-type game.

When we have ideas on how to compete with that notion, we should be sharing them and adding them into a pool of intelligence that can ultimately bring everyone up. That’s what we want to do through liberalising things more. We’re here to encourage and allow for everyone to be more agnostic with each other.

It’s not ideas we lack, but the ability to deliver them efficiently.

Exactly. At IKEA, you get the same thing in every pack – an Allen key that you twist and turn to build everything within a home. Someone like me, who is the absolute worst at jobs around the house, can build furniture.

I see Flows as offering this type of service to the digital gaming industry – the most simplistic toolkit to deliver innovation. Any person within a business, no matter how technically able they are, can have an idea and act on it.

For instance, one person might think that if a player has used three different credit cards in ten minutes, it would be helpful to block them and send a message.

This hypothetical person should be able to go to a computer and build that flow, which you can do. You can build a flow that triggers from deposits and you now have a player protection protocol in place within a few minutes of formulating the idea with instant implementation.

Is the next year all about getting customers and clients?

We launched what we have called Flows version 1.5 a few weeks ago. Over the next few months, our focus is to work on the pipeline of extensive leads we have towards ICE where we will launch an updated version of the interface. We want to keep developing the interface so that every time it becomes easier and more intuitive to use.

We are very humble about where we are today versus where we want to be in a few years’ time. Flows will never stop developing and getting better – perfection is something we will always work towards but ultimately never achieve.

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