gile is a method developed in early 2000 within the IT sector applied to encourage rapid and flexible responses to change: each project is divided into smaller tasks that must be completed and delivered in a few weeks. This is the approach Betcris, a sports betting operator developing business in multiple countries, currently applies.
After the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, the company decided to send 300 of its employees to work from home. In an interview with Yogonet, CEO JD Duarte said it would not be rare to consider implementing more flexible working modalities once the crisis is over.
Is the capacity during a crisis comparable to that of the ordinary course of business?
Ours is definitely a study case. Sports is our commodity, and it is no secret that sporting events have been suspended worldwide. As regards the team’s capacity, we have noticed an increase in productivity that we attribute to the great commitment displayed by our people, who have doubled their efforts in these difficult times.
Which measures have you taken to protect the health of your employees?
The health of our human resources is of the utmost importance. The fact that we have implemented preemptive measures even before other companies, which included giving our people notice of the situation that was coming ahead, enabled us to mitigate the surprise factor of the pandemic. To ease the impact these changes could have on our employees, specially social-distancing directives, we opened communications channels and encourage massive calls to explain our corporate policies on that regard and anticipate what the future would possibly look like. We focused on making our people feel safe: this situation is temporary and we will come back even stronger than before.
Do you have any piece of advice for those companies that are not considering a home office modality at all?
Even though one of the aims of any company is producing benefits for their stakeholders, that should not be enough, because firms bear responsibilities towards their people. If it is possible to continue with the regular course of business in any way, companies should do it. Keeping teams active and productive is beneficial not from an economic but also a psychological standpoint.
The structure depends on each different company but the Agile method consists of the following: the division of tasks into cross-functional and self-organizing teams that work through cycles and are continuously seeking process improvement. These teams are much more efficient because they have a better capacity to adapt than larger teams and are highly effective when they reach their collaborative pick.
The offices Betcris is building in Escazú, Colombia.
In light of the suspension of sports, Betcris has begun offering financial gambling. Have users responded well to this?
Better than expected. Not only are we providing stock market financial odds but we have also extended our eSports offering to keep customers entertained.
The company has also accelerated the launch of online casino games, live tables, and virtual sports. When will this new content be available?
These products were already on our agenda. What we did was switching priorities to have them ready earlier. We expect the launch will come in the next few weeks, and we are also releasing weekly enhancements to our platform.
The company had bet on two important markets this year: Brazil and the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Some of the company’s objectives were fulfilled: Betcris sponsored the Brasileirão —the country's primary football competition— and chose Ronaldinho as brand ambassador. Duarte explained that this context will not change the firm’s business strategy although it is likely to modify growth projections.
"A year that was set to be of record growth, due to our expansion into new markets and the enlargement of our product portfolio, has now become a challenging year. Depending on what happens with global sports competitions, we are going to see outcomes very different from those we expected," he explained.
Ronaldinho became Betcris' brand ambassador.
JD Duarte is one of the speakers confirmed for the SBC Digital Summit, a series of online conferences scheduled for April 27-May 1, together with other 140 industry leaders.
How likely is that online operators and suppliers work together on a joint agenda to tackle the COVID-19 crisis?
The crisis generated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic goes way beyond our industry. We have to agree on the measures we will implement to get over this and then, we need to make sure the relevant measures are taken to avoid this from happening again.
Collaboration must go beyond operators and suppliers. If we were already vowing for a fairer tax scheme for gambling companies, now this should be our top priority. As a responsible businessman, I reiterate my request to keep our workforce active, since this will help the economy stay afloat in the markets where we operate.