Sports digital platforms: Taking control of content and the conversation with fans thanks to technology and data

Posted on: July 5, 2018 by Fabrice Doreau

“Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.” The words spoken by the Ancient Mariner are not too far from the scenario sports & entertainment organizations are facing when it comes to data. Like water was for the Mariner, data is now vital to their survival. Despite gathering more and more data, organizations are struggling to leverage it to take control of their content and the conversation with their fans – a requirement that is critical for their future success.

In this post, I explore the disruptive digital strategies and technologies that are helping sports organizations take back control.

Research has shown that leveraging data can increase stadium attendance by 25% and time spent in merchandise stores by 45%. So, let’s start by exploring what sports & entertainment companies can achieve when they make full use of their data and put themselves back in control.

Delivering a disruptive digital strategy

Sports & Entertainment is gathering an extensive set of data points based on fans’ interaction with apps, physical actions, event attendance, social media, athlete and team performance on the field of play and more. A forward-thinking digital strategy can leverage this data to transform how fans watch and experience games, how organizations operate venues, and how athletes and their trainers play and coach sports.

Sports digital platforms are a key element of those digital strategies. These collections of software and hardware services allow sports & entertainment companies to increase fan reach and create deeper levels of engagement. They connect fans around the world with athletes, teams and each other on and beyond match days. After aggregating data from diverse sources to build fan profiles (a meaningful picture of fans’ allegiances and behaviors), analytics drive smart segmentation for targeting relevant offers and ‘must see’ content to fans, including promoting partner businesses and attracting new sponsors. Quantifiable monitoring then allows targeting to be adjusted.

The sports digital platform offers the venue itself new operational efficiencies through real-time monitoring, condition-based maintenance and cost reduction. It can even help amplify the ‘home field advantage’ on match days by delivering contextually intelligent information to heighten fans’ immersion in the game.

A deep and meaningful conversation

Contextually intelligent information is about giving the right fan, the right experience in the right way at the right time and place. Using the fan profile to ensure messages, content, gamification and more are highly relevant and delivered through the right channel (from notification services, websites, mobile apps and wearable apps to digital signage), it ensures the conversation touches a fan’s emotions. It can even propose novel activities such as scavenger hunts and visits to affiliate partners and sponsor locations to enhance intimacy further.

While many of the conversations with fans the platform delivers today are segmented and one-to-many, I expect these to soon evolve into highly personalized one-to-one conversations. Imagine how it could trigger specific content – such as videos, AR (Augmented Reality) games or VR (Virtual Reality) experiences – based on an individual fan´s physical behavior to deliver a deeply immersive and engaging experience.

I mentioned partners and sponsors. The digital platform increases the ecosystem of applications and experiences around events by involving third-party providers. This marketplace holds the sports & entertainment organization at its center, in full control of amateur or professional developments around events and benefitting from disruptive innovation, novel business models and sources of revenue and an expanding fan base.

Taking control of the vast ocean of data

I’ve explored how digital platforms help sports & entertainment organizations maximize the reach and engagement needed to retain fans’ loyalty and attention. But what barriers are standing in organizations’ way?

Their challenges are two-fold. Firstly, sports & entertainment companies are not always able to access this data, either because they have outsourced a capability or because the data is dotted around siloed systems within a fragmented IT landscape. Secondly, organizations may lack the skills required.

These four concrete steps can help put you back in control:

  1. Assess: Find out what data you currently have and identify the gaps.
  2. Build: Harness the data available to create new fan journeys with tailored experiences.
  3. Develop: Capture the missing data to deliver personalization at scale and, tomorrow, achieve a segment of one.
  4. Define: Set a data strategy, develop a new operating model and outline the target technology framework.

And when it comes to accessing the skills needed to leverage the sports digital platform fully, your ecosystem partners hold the key. Leverage their expertise. Invite partners such as Atos to join you on the steps I described above, or to help you manage your data and ensure it’s secure and compliant with global and local legislation.

Smart sports & entertainment organizations are orchestrating data and services within digital platforms to take control of their content and the conversation with fans. Find out more about how they are leveraging platform-based ecosystems of partners in Sports & Entertainment Look Out 2020+.

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About Fabrice Doreau
Head of Strategic Engagement for the sports industry
Fabrice has more than 15 years of experience in the sports IT market for the Olympic Games and other major events, helping Sports & Entertainment industry leaders develop and implement disruptive digital strategies and services. He is responsible for driving innovative business deals and setting up partnerships with clients, cultivating relationships with start-ups, sports media agencies, telecom operators, third-party sports data providers and industry influencers. Before joining the division of Olympic Games and Major Events at Atos, he developed the Sports & Media market in France for Worldline over seven years. Fabrice is a graduate of Network & Telecom Engineering and Commercial Negotiation.

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