Advances in technology have changed every aspect of the world around us over the past couple of decades. From remote working to mobile banking to movie streaming, a visiting time traveler from the 1980s would be blown away by the scale of change.
At first glance, sport looks like something that has been affected less profoundly than other areas of life. After all, a game of soccer or a round of golf is no different aside from one or two regulatory tweaks, perhaps. However, beneath the surface, technology is driving wholesale shifts in the way sport is both played and consumed.
In a recent white paper, Vector ITC described four pillars of digital transformation in sport. Let’s take a look at them.
Keeping fans engaged in a sport is core to its sustainability. New sports like pickleball or eSport are all the rage at the expense of sports like golf that are struggling to engage Gen-Z. Engagement is not just about omni-channel streaming and social media engagement, important though these are. It also covers areas like fan and sponsor relationship management, online sports betting and the like.
Anyone with experience in business analysis will know the profound impact that big data analytics can have on performance. That principle is being extended to the world of sport. An ecommerce business uses real time data on buyer behaviour to improve sales, and in a similar way, data analytics provides coaches and athletes with statistics to identify areas for improvement in athletic performance. Monitoring software can also deliver early warnings of injuries like strains or stress fractures to minimize their impact and reduce recovery periods.
Sports venues, from football stadia to racetracks, are typically densely populated and create challenges in terms of security, crowd management and health and safety, especially in these difficult times. Technology is driving operational excellence in areas like signage, broadcasting and location-based services. The objective is to deliver an experience that is safe and enjoyable for fans.
The final pillar is closely related to the third, but it considers facilities optimization from the perspective of the teams and operators. Here, the focus is on smart technology and IoT applications that improve both efficiency and sustainability of stadia and other types of venues. By using technology to improve the way people interact with the stadium, such as through using mobile apps to access information or order refreshments, the operations can improve security, nurture customer loyalty and ultimately add to the brand value of both the facility and the teams.
Implementing technology to strengthen these four pillars is a work in progress that is still in its infancy. In fact, Vector estimates that implementation of the tools currently in use will increase by 70 percent by 2027. That’s before we consider emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, tools whose applications are yet to be fully understood. Technological transformation is a reality today, and it will be intriguing to see just where it leads us tomorrow.