IGT hits the jackpot with casino data



According to Lon O'Donnell, Manager of Professional Services for International Gaming Technology (IGT), “Tableau is actually a perfect product for the casino industry.”

In this video, Lon explains how Tableau is helping IGT - a 30-year veteran of the casino industry - improve designs and optimize revenue.

Tableau: Can you tell us about your job?
Lon O’Donnell, Manager, Professional Services: I run the professional services department for International Game Technology. We are the world's largest supplier of slot machines and software to the casino industry.

Tableau: Is the casino industry pretty data-driven?
Lon: A single slot machine spits out six to ten fields per hour multiplied by a thousand machines multiplied by 24 hours, multiplied by 365 days. So you're looking at about a billion fields per year that a single casino will analyze.

Tableau: What sort of insights are you using Tableau to find in all that data?
Lon: In the past, we haven't had a real good insight as to why a slot machine performs well. To really drill down on the data and understand how individual machines perform in individual areas—and even more importantly, how they perform in proximity to each other—is extremely valuable.

That can help casino operators lay out their floor in a more strategic way, or to create areas that are more profitable or more appealing to the customers and improve the experience.

Tableau: Whoa! That must present a lot of opportunities—as well as challenges.
Lon: If you're a casino operator and you need information about how slot machines perform individually or about how your marketing programs are performing, you have access to very long data structures and a lot of information in a grid format.

What you don't have is the ability to see that in an easily digestible format and to make actionable decisions. Using a product like Tableau, we can connect to that data very easily and turn that information over in a really easy-to-digest format.

Tableau: That’s great to hear! So tell us, what types of data are you working with in Tableau?
Lon: Most of the data that we use or that we get from our customers is structured in the SQL format. The problem is that a modern mega-resort can have up to a dozen different operating facilities, each one using a different type of data. For example, a food and beverage operator might use Micros, which is AS400-based. And then they may use a POS system that is XML-based.

A product like Tableau helps us bring all that information together and blend it so that casinos can get a real 360-degree view of what their players and customers are experiencing.

Tableau: Can you give us an example of a customer’s data environment?
Lon: I have a casino that I work with that has been maintaining their data since 1999. Their database is 4.3 petabytes. By comparison, Mozilla's whole database for their entire user base of 100 million is 5 petabytes. So there's a lot of data out there that needs to be carefully analyzed, crunched, and turned into digestible formats.

For storage they have a storage area network (SAN). Their management staff is very data-oriented. So they built out the SAN specifically for this. And literally every event that happens on a slot machine, whether it's a door-open or a jackpot or somebody putting their player's card in, is recorded and stored.

Tableau: So having that much data is pretty typical. But once you get all your data into Tableau, what insights are you even looking for?
Lon: In the past, we haven't had a real good insight as to why a slot machine performs well. To really drill down on the data and understand how individual machines perform in individual areas—and even more importantly, how they perform in proximity to each other—is extremely valuable.

That can help casino operators lay out their floor in a more strategic way, or to create areas that are more profitable or more appealing to the customers and improve the experience.



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