Why data is king for sports events of tomorrow


Posted on: February 7, 2020 by Sophie Proust

As sport drives passion around the world, data is already transforming the fan experience, before, during and after the event. But what we see today is only the beginning. There are many more ways data can dramatically improve the fan experience.

A wide field of sports data

Various sources can provide data before, during, and after the event:

  • Smart cities, for instance, can provide transport and location data, including real-time insight on how traffic is flowing for the best route to the stadium, or public transport schedules, and a real-time view on services. Details of the stadium and access points can be combined with a real-time view on where people are gathering.
  • Spectators, fans, and competitors alike will be sharing videos, statistics, and preferences, along with their emotions through their mobile devices on social media. Individual clubs and country delegations could add to the data volumes with their own insights on their teams and even individual competitors, potentially providing real-time performance statistics as the event progresses.
  • Event management systems gather data about the stadium, not only for day-to-day maintenance of the venue but also real-time data for managing the event and any incidents on the day. Security teams share data on their accreditations along with real-time insights into individual happenings.

Data changes the game

Without data, sports organizations would struggle to customize advertising, build applications and communities around a given sport, event, or athlete – and analyze the resulting social network conversations.

On the day of an event, data can personalize the fan experience on the journey to and from the venue, from journey planning to travel, accommodation, entertainment, and merchandising. It can help with logistics management; make access, security clearance and wayfinding more efficient; and providing an automated support desk.

At the venue itself, data is essential:

  • It provides personalized services, from ticketing, merchandising, gamification to offering fans their preferred food and beverage;
  • It augments commentaries in real-time with insight into past event;
  • It lies behind the holograms that augment the play, and the virtual reality matches that provide a truly immersive experience;
  • It gives fans the greener and lower price events;

To make those massive volumes of data truly transform the fan experience, we need not only to gather it but also to store, secure, process it, and act on it. For this, we require the latest technologies.

Technology for a winning fan experience

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the game for fans by bringing new insights based on data gathered from fans, participants, the venue, etc. After all, AI can analyze huge volumes of data in real-time; and its mathematical model helps us see the patterns and make the correlations that would otherwise remain undetected.

To add to the fan’s excitement, AI could predict whether an athlete is going to beat a record or a player is going to score. To increase fan engagement, it could power chatbots that can offer support. And to personalize the fan experience, it could inform fans of events based on their preferences.

AI can support the venue too. It could predict whether a device or asset is on course to break down, plan how much food should be prepared, or forecast weather to help with energy and waste management.

Its prescriptive threat analysis can help keep the venue safe, with pattern matching not only automatically detecting threats but also instigating appropriate actions to eliminate any vulnerabilities. It might detect and react to an overflow of people at a given point, suspicious behavior in the venue, or unwelcome conversations on social media.

Immersive experience technologies put fans in the middle of the action by mixing content built on data with the real world. Virtual reality could add content to a video, or place images or holograms in the crowd or on the playing field for a truly immersive view of the competition. An augmented reality mascot could be deployed on the fan’s mobile to engage them with the brand as well as guide them before, during, and after the event.

Blockchain technology has a role to play in security too; it can store and transmit information securely and without any central control. In the sports arena, blockchain could digitalize and secure ticketing along with payments in venues, shops, and other sports facilities. It could manage microtransactions, smart contracts, per-view payment, rewards, ...

With data playing such a critical role, cybersecurity technologies will be required to protect and control access to it. Identity and Access Management will play a vital role.

For the sports events of tomorrow, data is, without doubt, king. The question we must ask ourselves is: “Where will data have the greatest impact on the sports fan experience?” The answer will help us prioritize our investments in technology for gathering, securing and processing data, as well as the technology that will allow us to maximize value from the insights provided.

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About Sophie Proust

Group Chief Technology Officer, Atos and member of the Scientific Community
Sophie has been the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Atos since January 2019. She joined the Atos group in 2014 following the acquisition by Atos of Bull, where she held the position of Head of Research & Development. At Atos, Sophie was head of the Research & Development for the Big Data & Cybersecurity division, from 2014 to January 2019. Alongside this, Sophie is part of the Atos Quantum Advisory board. Before Atos, Sophie held various technical managerial positions at Bull in the mainframe, IT administration solutions and HW server design. In 2010, Sophie headed the Tera100 Project which delivered the CEA with the first Petaflops-scale calculator in Europe. She has been a member of the board of directors of Worldline since December 2016 and a member of the board of directors of the Université Technologique de Troyes (UTT) since December 2018. Sophie Proust is a graduate of the Ecole Supérieure d’Electricité “Supélec” of Paris.

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