Meeting the team behind the digital transformation of the Olympic Games


Posted on: March 21, 2018 by Gard Little

Gard Little, Research VP at IDC recently visited the Central Technology Operations Center (CTOC) in Barcelona. In his blog, Gard shares what he learnt about the Atos approach, preparation and operation of the IT systems for the Olympic Games and how the cohesive team of Atos and its technology partners makes it all work.

In the run up to the weekend of the closing ceremony in PyeongChang, I had the chance to spend two days with the Atos team that supports the Olympics and visit the Central Technology Operations Center (CTOC) in Barcelona. We also got to Skype with the Atos managers on the ground, both in PyeongChang and in Tokyo, which not only gave me a flavor of how Atos operates in the moment to support the Games, but also the years of preparation required for each of these projects.

What Atos has accomplished for the IOC in terms of migrating to an all cloud delivery model over the last six years is very impressive, and in Marta Sanfeliu the team has a great leader with years of directly relevant experience.

Since 2015, I've said that if Atos can deliver the projects required to run IT for the Olympics, then it can take on any type of cloud delivery project that other organizations would need. And while that belief was reconfirmed on this visit, my best insight from the Barcelona meeting was about how Atos manifests the reality of one team among all the technology partners involved in delivering for the IOC.

In this era of more rapid projects and project cycles, the Olympics are unusual in that Atos and its partners have two years to operate together building and testing systems before each event. But each two-year cycle is divided into many smaller deliverables that combine into larger ones. And it is the Atos learnings about how to operate in each smaller cycle that have the potential to benefit all its clients.

For example, in this all cloud delivery model, Atos can now deploy a virtual competition site in 4 hours, compared with three weeks which is how long it used to take to move all the equipment to be tested to a physical location. This standardization has led to an increase in the level of quality for testing as well as more time for testing or other activities.

Having a two-year cycle to work together building and testing systems before a big event is obviously great for team cohesion, and it also gives all the technology partners the time to really understand the interdependencies of their work and how this enables the business of the Olympics. Atos measures service level agreements, end-to-end, that all the technology partners have with the IOC and this level of transparency helps create a sense of one team.

IDC has been researching what service companies will look like in the future and one of the attributes identified is about being totally client aligned. We see the current trend of digital transformation blurring most of the boundaries that have been set up, both within and between organizations, to maintain operational control or situational awareness and to minimize risk. This trend will likely continue, and we believe the service companies of the future will operate less in siloed teams and more on either cross-functional or cross-organizational teams or both. This type of client alignment is something that Atos and its technology partners are already exhibiting successfully.

The IOC has a strategy to keep IT costs constant for each Olympic cycle, while increasing innovation and new capabilities, and this pushes Atos and its partners to digitally transform as was seen in the move to an all cloud delivery model.

We will see more innovations as we get ready for Tokyo, and beyond, including more sentiment analysis of social networks using Atos Codex, and more focus on improving the customer experience, in areas like transportation management and merchandising, via new mobile applications. But behind the impressive technology, the cohesive team of Atos and its technology partners is what makes it all work.

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About Gard Little

Research Director, IDC's Global Services Markets and Trends
Gard Little is Research Director for IDC's Global Services Markets and Trends research team, with programs that focus on Worldwide Services, IT consulting and systems integration, and digital transformation professional services.  Mr. Little’s core research on digital transformation includes analyzing customer demand and vendor offerings for building new business processes, organizations and systems using cloud, business analytics, enterprise mobility and social business technologies. Mr. Little’s research also includes an emphasis on emerging service opportunities related to the Internet of Things and cognitive systems.

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