Digital transformation in soccer


Posted on: May 02, 2018 by Alexandre Morais

Soccer is a sport that stirs the emotions of millions of fans around the world and at the same time involves professionals from many different areas each season. As soon as a referee blows his whistle to signal the end of the match, sports analysts start commenting on who was the best player on the field, how each team performed, what percentage of passes was good or bad, etc.

Using Big Data in sport might have sounded strange ten or fifteen years ago. Today it is estimated that millions of data points are produced during the 90 minutes of a game; and these can be worked on and compared in analyses and strategies. When teams start winning more as the result of an analysis of these points, it reflects a new reality.

As an example of this new reality, let me share the performance of the German selection at the 2014 World Cup, when the team’s coach used technological support that really made history. The secret of their success was the use of the SAP HANA platform, an app that was called the “12th player on the field” by The Wall Street Journal.

IT systems fit for world champions

The performance of the German team has inspired teams around the world. Teams from Brazil, where football is a national passion, took the first steps towards digital transformation. The historic São Paulo Football Club, three times club champions of the world, has decided to upgrade its management processes with SAP S/4 HANA.

Founded in 1930, São Paulo FC has decided to digitalize and automate its internal processes in areas such as finance, inventory management, human resources and procurement. To improve efficiency and benefit from real-time resource management, the club has transferred these processes and other systems to Cloud platforms. This will put the club’s management on an equal footing with the most technology-driven teams in the world. And it is expected that with the new digital management, it will save up to 80% of what it would have spent in time and resources on bureaucratic processes.

Pushing the boundaries of sports performance through advanced analytics

The solution also allows more detailed monitoring of injuries, medication and performance diagnosis, presenting a full medical history of each player. By way of a chip, the technology collects the levels of lactic acid in the athlete’s body from their sweat to identify those who are the most tired or susceptible to injury. When all this information is combined it should help personalize training, prevent injuries, help adapt tactics and contribute to boost the performance of the entire team.

Over the next few seasons I expect to see more teams connected to these new technologies, such as big data solutions, machine learning, wearables technologies, etc. But it is worth remembering that digital transformation is not only present in football; other sports, like the NBA basketball league, volleyball, water sports, such as swimming, rowing and sailing, and various others are involved with the development of new technologies that we will soon see more and more on our sports fields and arenas, as you can read in this article on data-driven sports in the latest Ascent Magazine.

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About Alexandre Morais

Head of Atos Consulting and Digital Transformation South America and Atos SAP
Alexandre Morais leads the team responsible for Atos Business IT Consulting to drive customers’ digital transformation in South America. Currently he is executing projects on business management, new business models for digital age, IT Governance, Robotics and Process Automation, SAP S/4 Hana, Organizational Change Management, Application Transformation and Cloud, Digital Transformation and Customer Engagement. Alexandre is graduated in IT Management and has a MBA in Business Management and Business Administration and Management. He has more than 20 years´ experience in delivering, developing and implementing banking, financial applications and SAP solutions projects at Siemens IT and Atos.

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