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February - 2006 - issue > Company Profile
Play-the-Bally-Way
Imran Shahnawaz
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Last September Srini Raghavan, Vice-President and Managing Director of Bally Gaming and Systems India lingered on for hours at Harrah’s, Bally’s, Venetian and other casinos in Las Vegas, the gaming capital of the world. He tested his luck at many games, of which he liked the table games most. “The environs of a casino is structured to create a feeling of timelessness. You won’t find a single clock or exit sign. The décor is designed in such a manner, that you won’t realize whether the sun is rising or setting. It is a self-contained world,” he says.

Raghavan’s first contact with casinos was through Bond movies. He did not imagine in his wildest dreams that he would land in an organization that provides technology solutions for customers running 300,000 games deployed at almost 300 locations worldwide! Though he has always been attracted to outdoor games like cricket and tennis, the impact and criticality of technology in casino and video gaming has him completely hooked now. That has more to do with Raghavan, the former Vice President & Managing Director of Manhattan Associates India getting a mandate to set up the Bally India center in Chennai.

Headquartered at Las Vegas, Bally Gaming and Systems designs, develops and integrates games for the global gaming industry, as well as provides highly specialized computer monitoring systems. These technology based solutions provide game operators with networked services for their gaming machines and for their environment. Bally’s sophisticated, stable and flexible solutions takes risk out of the technology equation, and has made Bally the global leader in the gaming industry.

Like any other industry, technology is changing the way games are operated, managed and played. The latest innovations in optics, electronics and digital technology to name a few are making their way into the latest games and the gaming environments. A decade ago, everything was manual in nature at casinos like with the usage of coins rather than bills, pulling the lever instead of pushing the button, and so on. Now video screens have replaced the manual machines. The game runs on the video and the software decides the winner. Raghavan adds, “At present slot games have become so sophisticated that as soon as you press a button the combination gets locked. The movement of reels on screen is just to create an impact.”

Besides, the company develops systems that help its customers retain and reward players, manage and forecast finances, reduce risk, spot trends and increase security. Hence business intelligence is integrated into the system to manage the entire workflow. From tracking individual player characteristics and preferences to recording their performance and rewarding them, Bally Systems’ solutions are leveraging technology like never before.

While being the baby of the Bally World, Bally India is speedily and surely making its parent proud. Starting operations three months ago, it has quickly added 33 engineers. “This is the largest group of technical engineers in one location in the Bally world, and we regard this fact as a tremendous opportunity for Team India to add value” says Raghavan. The center also enjoys the unique privilege of taking part in development of all Systems products. This concentration of all Systems products in one geographic location will contribute significantly to collaboration and knowledge sharing.

With the gaming industry expanding its horizons and spreading globally, Bally is engaging with new customers in China, Korea and Australia. These centers are now emerging as the fastest growing markets and the company management feels that it could not have started its Indian operations at a more appropriate time. This was borne out by the fact that the India team is now responsible to implement Bally Systems’ solutions at customer locations in China and Korea.

Besides having presence in product development and implementation, Bally Chennai is also expanding its wings in quality assurance. The fledgling group of test engineers that are just coming on board will put their stamp on the quality of what finally reaches the customers. “It is a tremendous opportunity for our engineers as they are able to participate from conceptualization to release of Bally’s solutions” says Raghavan. To fulfill the growing demand the company plans to ramp up its headcount to 150 engineers by the end of third quarter of 2006.

India is best suited to leverage the awesome talent pool feels Raghavan. “Our focus is not to hire by quantity, but for quality. It doesn’t matter to me whether a person is very proficient in a programming language; the ultimate goal is to deliver the product to the customers. We need smart people with aptitude to write smart programs to achieve this.”

What excites Raghavan most is that he feels he has the first opportunity to inject some real fun in the Indian IT industry. “Till now, engineers in India were participating in developing products for a serious customer in a mundane world. Bally India is going to change that as it is more fun to make games than play them” he says. With such enthusiasm and confidence, Bally India can expect a windfall in the slots of its future.
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