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  • Writer's pictureKevin Jones

"CTO in Focus" Rafael Campuzano, WA.Technology

In our latest CTO in Focus, Gaming Eminence speaks with Rafael Campuzano, Chief Technology Officer of WA.Technology, about his career journey from Vodafone to leading innovation in the iGaming industry. Rafael shares how his early experiences shaped his leadership style, emphasising the importance of team motivation and clear goals. He discusses the critical challenges faced by iGaming operators, including platform reliability, regulatory compliance, and competition, and how WA.Technology addresses these issues. Rafael also highlights his approach to staying ahead with emerging technologies and his evolved philosophy that prioritises building powerful, motivated teams over technological tools.

GE) Starting your career as a Products Engineer at Vodafone, moving through various leadership roles, and now serving as CTO at WA.Technology, how have your early experiences shaped your approach to technology leadership and innovation in the iGaming industry?

RC) Well, I know it might sound like a cliché, but it is so true that I cannot avoid saying that I learned mainly from my mistakes. You are now making me look back, and I would say that my early experiences were exciting because everything was very challenging, but your youth gives you that energy of believing you know everything. This makes you reckless many times but, at the same time, allows you to achieve things that you would never have done being more cautious.

One of the first things I learned is how important “the people” are, and everything around them. I have experienced very challenging projects become a great success because the team was motivated, feeling comfortable, and even excited working together, sharing a common goal, which is another thing that contributed to shaping my leadership approach. Unfortunately, I have also seen the opposite situation many times too.

All these things are not always taken into consideration by technology organisations. Technology is important, of course; you need to choose the right one that fits your purpose, but it is still much more important to build powerful teams that work together like a clock and have clear goals.

During those early stages of my professional career, I also had the chance to learn how to organise things to provide a highly demanding service, highly available and at great scale, like it is with a mobile operator. I mean in terms of processes, architecture, team organisation, and so on, and of course, also what things do not work or can be done better. A telecommunication system and the technology around iGaming are quite similar in many aspects: high volumes of traffic, integration with third parties, high availability expected, changing fast, very competitive, high throughput of wallet transactions involved, a great dose of regulation, and many other things in common.

GE) Transitioning from engineering management to executive leadership involves a significant shift in focus and responsibilities. Can you discuss how your experiences in engineering management have prepared you for the challenges of executive leadership within the rapidly evolving iGaming sector?

RC) Like every other discipline in life, you need to know the details about how something works to be able to make higher-level decisions, so you can understand the implications and the consequences (both good and bad) of those decisions.

For instance, if you decide to adopt a new technology as part of the strategy to make a more flexible platform for your clients, you need to understand the impact that it will have on the teams and drive the change considering what you already know about what that will mean for the engineering managers and all team members in general. This way, you make that decision not just because it is a fancy new technology or because it looks nice, but by weighing all the factors.

I am also a firm believer that someone in a high position in any organization should never lift their feet from the ground, staying in direct contact with what is going on at a tactical level. My job as an executive leader consists of abstracting what happens day by day into high-level directions that allow me to think strategically, but always knowing that every strategy is born from the real business needs, both for our clients and for our internal development.

This industry cannot be considered mature yet and is still rapidly evolving, as you well say in your question. Therefore, the best strategy for anyone leading a technology department, at any level, is to seek flexibility: agile methodologies focusing on embracing change and short delivery cycles, with incremental value generation, and use of technologies that allow rapid scaling of capacity, both in terms of personnel and operationally (traffic).

GE) With a comprehensive understanding of both the technical and business sides of iGaming, gained during your career, what do you see as the most pressing pain points for operators in the industry, and how is WA.Technology positioned to address them?

RC) I am more on the technical side of things, but as you mention, in my position it is also necessary to know the business well to make the right decisions and implement the right strategies.

At this moment, I see three main challenges for the operators:

  1. Reliability of the platform (stability and security): This industry has grown very rapidly, and some operators have seen how their player base and, therefore, their traffic has experienced massive growth, sometimes in a matter of months. This rapid growth can lead to downtime issues because of the lack of capacity or scalability of the platforms supporting the service. At the same time, when an operator succeeds, it attracts attention and often becomes the target of numerous attacks of different natures. WA.Technology has already gone through those critical moments with great success, and we can now proudly state that we have one of the most reliable platforms in the industry, due to its stability and security.

  2. Regulation: Especially in emerging markets, regulation starts appearing, often as a consequence of a state wanting to participate in the business and at the same time ensuring that its population is exposed to iGaming in a fair and responsible manner. WA.Technology is not only ready but ahead in most of the regulators' requests, holding the main required certifications like ISO27001 or GLI, and including all the responsible gaming features requested in our portfolio.

  3. Huge competition: It is a growing industry, and the level of competition is high. One of the main challenges that operators face is how to differentiate from others, what they offer that others do not have but players want. At WA.Technology, we have made a great effort to become flexible so that we can build new features quickly, adapting to the potential factors that can make a difference, and having an easy and powerful way to integrate with third parties that complement our offering. Additionally, WA.Technology is investing in localization (having a local presence in the markets our operators are in), which differentiates our platform for our operators by understanding the needs of the local market and the importance of our clients' needs.

For all these factors, many operators need to switch from their current platform to a different one, but that is also a costly operation in many cases. That is the reason why at WA.Technology, we have also invested in becoming experts in migrations, as proven by the fact that we have already performed many successful ones.

GE) Considering your experience across diverse technological landscapes and markets, how do you stay ahead of the curve in identifying and integrating emerging technologies that can benefit WA.Technology and its clients?

RC) In our times, there are many reliable sources of information about new technologies and trends that I follow regularly, and I also encourage my team members to do so. Many trends are not useful or end up in niches that are not interesting to us, but there is always something to learn, different points of view about the use of technology, and when there is a rising need or potential new features that are sought by our clients, you always have a list of resources that can fit to fulfil those needs.

Publications like the Technology Radar by Thoughtworks or the books about DevOps culture, Agile, and other work methodologies published by IT Revolution, among others, constitute a great source of inspiration, and of course, the Cloud Native Foundation and everything around Kubernetes, like the Kubecon event.

Of course, you always need to explore what others are doing in the industry, attend some of the numerous iGaming events around the world, and make your own ideas about how certain features can be implemented or just partner with the experts on new types of features that are exploiting a technology, provided that those are not part of your core business.

GE) Reflecting on your journey from hands-on technical roles to strategic leadership positions, how has your personal philosophy on technology and innovation evolved, and how does it influence your vision for the future of WA.Technology?

RC) People might think of someone like me, so passionate about technology, as believing that technology is the core of everything. In some ways, technology is at the core of everything, but it is not a purpose in itself. What is really important is how you use it to get the most out of it, to produce or serve what your clients need in the most effective and efficient way possible.

In the past, the different technologies to achieve something were very secretive for companies; nobody knew how others were doing things. However, nowadays, technology is public and even open for anyone to grab and use. Even the most powerful AI tools are just a couple of clicks away. The real value today lies in knowing how to develop a powerful team and define the right ways of working so that you can use technology effectively, produce quickly, and adapt to change. At WA.Technology, we organise teams in such a way that all that efficiency is in place, encouraging the autonomy of the teams, with clear goals, psychological safety, nurturing their skills, and adopting a culture of ownership and continuous improvement, which leads to developing highly effective teams.

That is why perhaps the most important philosophical evolution in my journey is realising that people are more important than the technological tools. A good team with the right culture, motivated and with a common goal, can do magic, can achieve the impossible, and that is exactly what happens at WA.Technology.

About our contributor

Rafael Campuzano currently serves as the Chief Technology Officer at WA.Technology. He has previously held the same role at several organizations, including betstudios, The Workshop - Inventors of Play, Bit8, and EveryMatrix Ltd. Additionally, Rafael was the VP of Testing and Quality Assurance at Elephant Talk Communications. With a strong background in managing OSS/BSS systems development and operations, he also co-founded Diseña Tecnología e Información and worked as a Products Engineer at Vodafone earlier in his career. Rafael earned his Master's degree in Telecommunications Engineering from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.


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