Creating digital products under one roof – why is it worth it? An interview with Michał Miler, Head of Product in STS.

6 November 2019
Magdalena Betlińska
Creating digital products under one roof – why is it worth it? An interview with Michał Miler, Head of Product in STS.

We realized we need to significantly enhance the cooperation and create one team working together on the product- say, Michał Miler, Head of Product in STS. In the interview, he explains why is it worth to invite designers from Mobee Dick to the organization which had half of the shares in the market. During the last five years STS’s profits increased almost decuple, the company hires 1500 people and is already present in several European countries.

Magdalena Betlińska (Mobee Dick): The service users are often demanding and competent people when it comes to betting as well as sport. Describe what challenges related to satisfying such a demanding group stand before your team.

Michał Miler (STS): STS is the biggest bookmaker company in Poland. Because we are the leader on the market, we need to address the needs of all possible clients.

As I mentioned before, our clients are an old hand at betting, they played at more than one bookmaker. They know exactly how it looks like. They are experts.

On the other side, there are lots of clients who are just starting and getting to know the world of betting. This group has completely different needs and expectations, and we need o to be accessible for them.

Those are various users' profiles, but is there something that connects them? Common experience, which you need to take care of?

I believe people choose STS, on account of trust. We are a big, known brand. For years we deliver a full bundle of high-level betting services and this is what our clients expect.

How did you build trust?

By the strong presence in the market. We always had a broad offer. We invest in innovation and technology. As the first company, we enable the live transmission. As one of the first companies, we introduced live betting. We were the first in Poland, which had a native application. With the change of law, we started to sponsor Polish sport.

STS is also a first polish company and one of the first once in the world, which radically shortens the waiting time for the payout. Clients appreciate that. Our services are available on all devices. We deliver the full experience, which simply works and is comfortable.

How important is design concentrated on a user, while creating digital products?

I recall the situation from a couple of years when designing a new, live betting section we made it a point of honor to create the best tool in the market.

However, we created that for ourselves. Our consultants were sports analysts and experts.
We use the newest technologies, to provide almost live updates of an offer, which was not a standard, we implemented a massive amount of features. Development lasted forever. When finally, after plenty of issues, the product was released, it became clear that we have not succeeded as we planned.

We collected feedback from clients. We asked, what was a problem and why they did not like it. This was a very valuable lesson. A year later we released a significantly improved version, which functions to this day.
This was a breakthrough moment, which made you realize that you do not create products for yourself.

Do you still apply learnings from this lesson?

Yes, this process still evolves. The whole company is working towards that, the apogee was last year, we are changing our communication strategy, started a lifting process of visual brand, we also decided to rebuild all our digital canals and as a part of this project we begin to work with you, Mobee Dick.

It all started with research

We decided to start the fundamental rebuild with thorough research on clients' needs. What are they thinking? What services would they like to use?

Currently, we are using collected information in the design phase. We do not cease to use the insights from research, and everything we do, we plan to test, verify, and streamline.

Together with other STS team members, you participated in a needs research, which we conducted for you. Was is a valuable experience for someone from the management team?

This was a very valuable experience. We looked at what we do from the perspective of our users. Of course, it was not perfect, users did not like many things. At the same time, they draw our attention to many useful features.

In my opinion participation in research should be repeated. A person locked in an office, who does not confront clients' expectations, starts drifting away and creating products only for oneself. We need to avoid this kind of behavior.

Why did you decide on such a close and long-lasting collaboration with Mobee Dick?

After a long period of organic growth and adding new functionalities to products, we reach a point, when it became difficult to maintain what was established over the years. We needed a fresh start to solve problems, which accumulated over the years.

Additionally, we added domains outside of Poland, that is why we started to think about the products globally. The new positioning was eye-opening. We knew we needed to use this breakthrough moment because there would not be any other. To use it right we needed help from outside. We needed a company which has experience working with such big projects.

Your design team grew by a couple of people- you are developing a UX department, and at the same time benefit from the UX experience from Mobee Dick.

Right, we have now a specialized UX team, which we are building and want to expand. Only this year, our design team increased by 7 people, including 2 designers. But that was not enough, we needed more people, quickly, who would be able to help us. That is why we work with you.

Bookmaking products are complicated, multidimensional, an multileveled. What is necessary to move forward the process of creating this digital product, also on a global scale?

What you need is a strong understanding and vision of the project. Both of which you gain with experience, data analysis, interviews and conversations with clients as well as market and digital trends research. Another very important thing is a deep understanding of the technical aspects, the operating system principles, and its restrictions. Or course, the knowledge of the sports industry is also important. It takes years to get this know-how. Creating this kind of system is not a task, which can be outsourced, commissioned to the outside agency and wait to get good designs.

We learned it while working with Mobee Dick. We set our expectations too high, and you did not realize the level of difficulty of the project.

In the beginning, it was like that.

We needed to learn how to work together. We understood that we need to significantly enhance cooperation and form one team working together on the project.

Monika Mikowska, CEO of Mobee Dick, often repeats that “UX cannot be commission”. The UX team should be in the house.

I do not know how it works for different companies, but here it is necessary.

In your headquarters, you work side by side with Mobee Dick designers? What are the benefits of this solution?

As I mentioned, we wanted to create a one team responsible for developing the product end-to-end. The team of specialists, designers, and developers.

What are the challenges that the team, including Mobee Dick designers, needs to face next?

We want to create an innovative project and keep already working channels. We plan to unify them, so there would be only one new thing. But before we get there, we have a long way of making plenty of decisions, solving incompatibilities, changing API, and so on… This is the biggest challenge that we are facing.

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