The late 18th century ushered in the Industrial Revolution. Fuelled by coal and catapulted forward by the steam engine, this period of industrial transformation effectively reshaped society, policy and the economy. Much like today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), this period of industrialisation had its critics and its endorsers. However, there are a few major differences. Today’s revolution is taking place at unprecedented speeds. Technologies that were novel just a few years ago have already been replaced by upgraded and refined products, platforms and business models. Machines and devices that were groundbreaking at the turn of the century are now all but obsolete. And what is most surprising: all of these advances are being propelled forward by something that is basically intangible: Data.
What is Big Data?
Nowadays, society and industry are in the throes of the next revolution: the data revolution. Or as it’s more commonly called the digital transformation. The amount of data collected on a daily basis is beyond our human ability to comprehend: Quintillions of bytes across the globe. And these bytes contain valuable information about every aspect of how we live, work, play and even die. They can be used to predict catastrophe and good fortune. They can tell us what size we should order when purchasing clothes online, what movies and music we might enjoy when a factory machine is likely to break down. And they are coming from everywhere and every device we’ve got connected to the Internet: our phones, our cars, our watches and of course our computers. Smart homes, smart watches, smart factories and smart cities are all providing data on our routines and how we navigate our daily lives.
This is Big Data
All the bytes of information amassed from all our machines and devices. And due to its aforementioned sheer size, big data has primarily been relegated to the cloud. This has presented amazing opportunities for everyone to benefit from the learning and knowledge it provides. We can plan our journeys and know where and when to allot extra time for traffic jams. We can analyse the human genome and create state-of-the-art treatments for terminal illnesses. We can use big data to predict weather trends and even anomalies. The patterns and correlations that big data reveal are helping us optimise processes, gain new insights and make better decisions than ever before. However, one of the most pressing questions of our time still remains. What is the best way to keep this data safe?
Using advanced authentication methods to protect our data
As more and more of our lives have shifted into the digital realm, with some of our most personal information being stored in the cloud, the importance of ensuring the security of data has been compounded immeasurably. Whereas login names and passwords were once considered a sufficient guarantee of safety and a viable method for personal authorisation, today’s guardians of data have had to resort to more foolproof measures. One of the most common and familiar is two-factor, or nowadays multi-factor, authentication, or 2FA and MFA respectively.
The concept of 2FA and MFA is relatively simple. As their names suggest, they stand for security processes that rely on more than one form of authentication. For example, when logging into an account or a platform with 2FA/MFA, you might first be asked for your username and password. However, this will then be followed by a second authentication process. Some examples include: a single-use TAN provided via text message or email or an external and separate application; biometric features, like facial scans or fingerprint recognition; or your geolocation. The more factors used to verify a user’s identity, the harder it will be for anyone unauthorised to gain access.
Big Data in Gambling
Big data is prevalent in nearly all major industries: healthcare, finance, commerce, etc. As already mentioned, it has transformed the way these sectors do business, interact with customers, design new products and offers, and more. And now, big data is revamping the gambling and online gaming industry.
The gambling industry has access to ample information from the very start of a new user’s journey. That is primarily because, unlike many other online businesses, users are required to provide a significant amount of personal information just to get started. This ranges from their name, date of birth and address to credit card information and a valid form of identification. And once a new user is registered, the real data collection begins: from user behaviour to gaming preferences, to time spent on different games, to wins and losses. The gaming industry is making extensive use of this data, and it is having a major impact on three key areas: safety, compliance and growth.
Big data facilitating growth in the gambling industry
As mentioned, big data gives us access to new insights. In the gaming industry, this includes information like user response to new games, services and offers. It also encompasses overall interest in games. Using data analysis and algorithms to detect usage and behavioural patterns, providers can design new games, detect waning popularity and tweak existing games and offers to provide a more alluring experience for users. This not only helps them attract new users; it also ensures that their games remain appealing to existing customers.
Big data ensuring safety in the gambling industry
Big data allows gambling providers to ensure secure access to their games as well as the overall safety of their users. By using identity and access management (IAM) systems, online gaming companies are able to track the general usage and behaviour of the players. If any anomalies are detected, the system can immediately block access controls and privileges or request an additional form of verification. This same method of tracking also helps determine if a user is at risk of developing an addiction to the company’s services. Based on the user’s behaviour, the provider can then give warnings to the user or even restrict or deny access to online games.
Big data guaranteeing compliance in the gambling industry
Government regulation of the online gambling industry has grown significantly stricter across Europe and the UK over the past few years. From warnings provided by the Autorité Nationale des Jeux in France about using bonuses to attract new users during Covid; to new limits detailed by the German Interstate Treaty on Gambling, which stipulate at what time online gambling advertisements can be shown; to the UK Gambling Commission’s new restrictions on game features, like how long a spin may last or how many games users should be allowed to play simultaneously.
Then of course there are the standard and longstanding regulations on gambling, like ensuring that minors cannot gain access.
Gambling providers can use big data in conjunction with algorithms to receive real-time updates regarding any recent changes in local policy and regulations related to gambling. Furthermore, they can power IAM systems with big data to ensure that only those authorised to gain access to an online gaming account are able to do so.
We are both well on our way and only at the beginning of the road to big-data-powered technologies and industry. All we can do is continue to ensure that the data being shared, aggregated, analysed and applied is as secure as possible. Only then can we be certain that the knowledge and insight it is providing are accurate and not more of a detriment than a tool for good.