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Small but mighty: “The Little Lottery That Could”

Atlantic Canada – with its scenic coastlines, smaller cities and friendly people – may not seem like an obvious place for a culture of innovation to thrive.

But for Kristin Root, Atlantic Lottery’s vice-president of information technology, the region’s simplicity may be exactly what helps East Coast companies adapt and succeed in the ever-changing world around them.

“There’s a part of our DNA as Atlantic Canadians that changes the environment that allows us to do great things,” she says. “When I think about who we are, I think that our size can be an advantage because of the way that we work.”

While being smaller brings its own challenges, such as not having the same ability to invest or access to a larger workforce, Root says it also creates a spirit of collaboration and cohesion that allows teams to punch above their weight.

“When I think about Atlantic Canada, one of the things that really jumps to mind and I enjoy is that we have a different culture here. I’ve always loved how we have a casualness to us,” she says, describing a work culture where people support each other both professionally and personally, which makes people want to help coworkers find solutions when issues arise.

“There becomes this glue there that helps people get through hard stuff and we’re never afraid to take on a challenge. There’s something really powerful in terms of what that means for the relationships and what it’s meant in our ability to get through really big challenges.”

Root adds that “The Little Lottery That Could” mentality can only develop in an environment without the friction created by multiple layers of structure and processes.

“Some companies have a global presence and they’re working across so much complexity in their organization,” she says. “Because we have that cohesiveness, it means that we’re more able to respond and do things to change and be different. That to me is what’s really exciting.”

Like any company, Atlantic Lottery is facing more competition as the internet expands consumers’ options. The competition doesn’t just come from unregulated online gaming sites, but from companies in any industry offering an improved customer experience.

Root says Atlantic Lottery needs to make sure it does the same for its players.

“We have to design for our most demanding players,” she says, pointing to companies like Amazon or Netflix that make it easier than ever before for customers to access and buy their products – which raises the bar for everyone else.

“I can buy a book with one click and it shows up at my door in two days. Those simple things that we now take for granted are informing what a lottery player is expecting of us.”

Atlantic Lottery has taken significant steps towards that goal over the past few years, including implementation of an improved IT infrastructure that Root says will form the “new foundation” as the company tackles future challenges.

“Because we have that cohesiveness, it means that we’re more able to respond and do things to change and be different. That to me is what’s really exciting,” she says.

“We’ll figure it out and we’ll be really excited to figure it out. And we’ll be really excited to continue to have challenging work.”

Root points to the recent Pro•Line modernization project – which, among other improvements, gave players a greatly improved mobile experience and the ability to generate a scannable QR code on their phones instead of filling out a paper slip – as a great example of how Atlantic Lottery is using a more agile approach to projects.

Mike Reithmeier, the product manager who helped to oversee the Pro•Line project, says the team embraced the agile approach’s ability to produce the changes customers were looking for.

“I don’t think we were known in the past for being very nimble. It was a real success. We launched on time and under budget and to great fanfare,” he says.

“It was really exciting it was great to see everyone’s buy-in, everyone was highly engaged.”