These are heady times for San Diego, Calif.-based VizExplorer, which has grown its business through the tough economy and now, along with the rest of the industry, is looking forward to realizing the possibilities offered by a better gaming business climate.

This was among the messages at VizExplorer’s inaugural OiSummit, with “Oi” standing for “operational intelligence,” a two-day user conference held in late January at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Company founder and CTO Andrew Cardno noted in his opening remarks that, from 1990-2007, the industry grew at about $3 billion a year and then entered a long period of flattened revenues. “Strangely, flat has been good for VizExplorer, because I guess people realized that they needed to get smart,” he said. “The really good news is we’re basically back to about $3 billion in annual growth. This is a really good time to be in gaming; we’re now in a growing industry again. We can all say we came through a really tough spot and we learned a lot and are better for it. There have been a number of times people have told us over the years that there are no opportunities for us, we’re in survival mode. Hopefully we can get out of this.”

One thing that Cardno was hoping the Summit would achieve was an exchange of information and ideas, not least because that is the stuff that VizExplorer ultimately thrives on. “We’re a provider and an enabler,” he said. “Your intimacy with your business takes you in different directions. Share your ideas and we’ll all get better.”

One topic, “The Smart Casino,” which Cardno described as unifying all data and bringing it to life, shed light on the direction VizExplorer is headed. “We are really excited about what this technology is bringing,” he said. “We have an enormous amount of inside space that we’re managing. What’s happening is that technology is taking all the things that go into a casino and making them smart, making it possible to improve customer experiences.”

Cardno also spoke of the company’s identity evolution from business intelligence to operational intelligence. “We used to do this thing called business intelligence; take business intelligence, add real-time decision making and real operational people doing stuff, and you get operational intelligence,” he said. “And when they’re doing it, they’re really well-informed because they have all the data at their fingertips. HostViz is a classic example. You take a host and in real time you see all the data across the business. They’re seeing pieces of analytics, they’re seeing information and it’s all part of an ecosystem. They’re not practicing business intelligence but they’re certainly practicing their intelligence, and they’re certainly operational; that’s what we’re doing.”