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Following the path of change

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Guest blog by Stéphane Jarbouai, executive director, analytics, GSN Games

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I’ve never been the type to shy away from change. Years ago I worked at McKinsey & Company, where I spent a lot of time doing very complex Excel modeling for clients. Later, I did strategy planning for a retailer, where many of the most difficult analytical challenges found their way to my desk. These included many interesting machine-learning challenges related to assortment and supply-chain optimization.

Eventually I ran out of interesting problems to solve and wanted to find new ones that were larger in scale. I was also craving an environment where the problem sets would change rapidly, without my having to chase them down.

For a change junkie like myself, GSN Games delivers the goods. Our customers surprise us constantly with new trends, demands, and unexpected behaviors. The pace of change in the gaming world would be difficult to overstate.

The problem with change is that too much of it starts to look like chaos, and even the most skilled people don’t make good decisions amidst chaos. At any given moment, we are experimenting with 30-plus different features within 10-plus different apps, and tracking the behavioral reactions of hundreds of different user profile types.

Which is to say, being comfortable with change is meaningless unless you’re willing to follow the data. What we learn from our vast data-collection effort isn’t always sexy. We often have to eschew the most intellectually satisfying path in favor of the one that is the most simple and direct. But while we may concede on choice, we never stop using our data to chase new innovations and add value to GSN Games

Using data to understand customers

Our approach to Big Data analytics at GSN Games has evolved in recent years. While our primary tactics for making data-driven product decisions haven’t changed, we have learned to use the same data and technology to better understand our customers—both the ones we have now and the ones we’ll acquire tomorrow.

We are making accurate predictions about how customers will use our products tomorrow and in the future—things that we wouldn’t have known only a few years ago. And we are learning that while every customer is important, some are worth taking bigger risks for.

These goals aren’t what we set out to achieve when we invested in our Big Data analytics engine back in 2011. But as more of our competitors in the gaming industry follow our lead into data analytics, it’s where we’re differentiating ourselves and making new discoveries to gain a competitive edge.

Lately I find myself wondering how long it will take before the answer to “what’s new?” changes all over again. And that suits me just fine.

Stephane Jarbouai, GSN_120x129.jpgStéphane Jarbouai is executive director, analytics, at GSN Games. Read the article “Taking ‘data driven’ to the next level” for more on how GSN Games leverages Big Data analytics for competitive advantage.

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