With most large sports events postponed for this year, its giving organizations a chance to step back and explore alternate revenue streams and digital transformation projects for next year and beyond. As organizations look to transform digitally, they must include technology teams throughout the process as a collaborative effort. Technology teams need to be ingrained into the business to drive digital transformation efforts in partnership, ticketing, content etc,. Without the technology backbone, any digital initiative is doomed to failure no matter how innovative it may be. The smart teams will be looking at building and investing in technology teams to create true digital transformation that will drive revenue and grow the organization. Digital transformation cannot be successful if it's created in a silo.
I often get asked by new tech or sports management graduates who are looking for a tech leadership role in sports or even a tech leadership role in general, what technical skills they need and what technical certifications are important in the industry. They are always surprised when I give the answer that what I felt made me successful in a sports tech leadership role is not how much technical knowledge I had (although it is needed), but how I worked on developing my business and soft skills. I started 20 years ago as a Junior Helpdesk coordinator and network engineer at MLSE and got the same advice from my first boss and Mentor Sasha Puric which has served me well throughout my career. There are countless skills to develop, but the following 5 were the ones that I focused on that helped me the most.
1. Understand the business
Technology is no longer about the programmer or engineer sitting in the corner pushing buttons or the helpdesk person fishing your email. Technology is now a commodity and can be outsourced at a much cheaper cost than keeping it in-house. The true value of a technology team is understanding how the latest technology generates value and grows the business as a whole. Learn how to be a revenue generator and not a cost centre.
2. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room
Technology is way too broad based in this day and age for one person to be an expert at everything. I have always made sure that everyone I hired on my team was smarter than me in their chosen area because I wanted my developers, engineers, devops team etc to come to me with solutions instead of looking to me to fix a problem. I’m always available as a fresh set of eyes and to give an understanding to them of how their task or project fits in with the overall strategy, but I want them to be able to take enough ownership to be solution driven,
3. Empower your team
If you have hired the right people, you are now in the position to empower them as the experts and let them own their tasks and projects. Team members who are empowered to have ownership of their work will always make decisions thoughtfully, responsibly, and with more care. They will also be more driven, motivated, and have more initiative, seeking creative and innovative ways to improve and develop what they are doing, rather than going through the motions and fulfilling the minimum. It’s ok to make mistakes and your team should not be afraid to fail as long as they are learning from the failure. Risks do lead to greater reward but also lead to occasional failure. Just make sure they are measured risks and not foolish ones.
4. Understanding what a winning Strategy is
As a leader, your team will look to you to put the pieces together and help them understand where the team is going and how what they are doing individually moves the needle and grows the organization. You need to put together a winning strategy that both your team and senior leadership buys into that uses technology to grow the organization. This again goes back to the first point of understanding your business and how technology drives and creates value.
5. Be decisive
A leader needs to be able to make smart decisions based on facts and experience, not straight gut instinct. If you followed the first 4 points you understand your business, have a smart and engaged team and have built a winning strategy to create a solid foundation for smart decisions. You will never bat a 1000, but you will make the right decision for the right reasons more often than not.
These are 5 of the most important traits that have helped me be successful in my career so far. There are countless other traits that I didn’t list here and would love to hear from you. What traits do you feel make a successful sports tech leader?
When you think tech for high performance and training the big 4 sports come to mind...What if I told you that surfing is actually the sports that is closest to the cutting edge of technology. Surprising isn't it? A fascinating look at whats being used to help surfers navigate those huge waves as they get ready to debut as an Olympic sport in 2021.
From the Article:
"As surfing prepares for its global spotlight, it is experiencing a seismic shift from a laid-back, go-with-the-flow mindset to one shaped by innovations in data analysis, physiological testing, and technology. Specialists in fields such as nutrition, psychology, and orthopedics are working with US surfing coaches like Brett Simpson to develop an Olympic training regimen that increasingly resembles those long favored by everything from basketball to volleyball. The team is undergoing cognitive analysis, establishing baseline biometrics, and tracking analytics to enhance performance. Surfers are experimenting with gear like pressure-sensing booties to glean insights into board control and GPS-equipped motion trackers to improve paddling technique."
Wonderful article on the importance and shifting role of innovation and technology within a sports organizations and how technology leaders must adapt and integrate into the business vs. just being "Technology Focused".
Great quote from Angela Ruggiero -
"“Sport, historically, has been insular and relied on the same sources of income – tickets, sponsorship, broadcast, merchandise, and food and beverage – but now technology is completely reshaping the industry,” Ruggiero tells The Sustainability Report. “There is a need for teams and leagues to have someone who understands technology, innovation, and how the traditional business of sport might be shifting."
Monumental task ahead for Atos, as next years Olympic games will need a massive technology focus if they are to go off as planned due to the pandemic. The technical requirements and processes needed will be incredible in order to pull off an international event of this scale safely. If Atos succeeds, they will in effect be creating the playbook moving forward. This might be one Olympics where what's happening outside the events is almost as interesting as whats happening at the events.
As a former combat sports competitor (nothing better to get the aggression out after a tough day at work) and working as a coach, manager and technical advisor to combat sports leagues, I just love this partnership between ONE Championship and Microsoft. Combat sports leagues have traditionally been slow to adopt to new data innovations and technologies but have recently seen the value of them and started moving forward. UFC led the way with the amazing technologies they have implemented at their training centers and now ONE championships is following suit with their partnership with Microsoft.
From the article:
"ONE will use Microsoft Azure to improve its streaming services and personalise content for fans worldwide. According to Microsoft, “artificial intelligence-powered recommendation engines and analytics on fan behaviour and viewing habits will allow ONE to better engage fans across all touchpoints and provide them with reimagined, tailor-made experiences”.The sports association will also give fans new sets of data to better understand the mixed martial arts, Muay Thai and kickboxing fights. "
Canadian company MediaPro will be using its AI production system to broadcast the CEBL Summer series. Great solution for organizations that want a professional broadcast without the need to have a huge travelling contingent of staff.
From the article:
"Mediapro Canada will use AutomaticTV, the group’s proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven fully automated sports production system, to produce High Definition live multi-camera coverage of the 19 games for CBC GEM – marking the first time the technology has been used in Canada. AutomaticTV offers a unique multi-camera broadcast-quality production solution with a 60 frames-per-second 1080p rate, allowing rights-holders to maximize their investment and generate new revenue streams."
While the Open won't be happening this year, the R&A will be trying out a concept called "Open for the Ages" that pits legends against each other to see who would win. Great use of analytics and technology for fan engagement, and a concept that has many other applications across sports. Who doesn't want to see how legends from different times would theoretically do against each other.
From the Aticle " Laurence Norman, VP Sports Technology at NTT DATA UK, said, "Technology is synonymous with modern sport, helping athletes compete at optimum performance levels. What's even more exciting is the new emphasis on technology being utilised to enhance fan experience.
The new concept will feature Tiger Woods competing against Jack Nicklaus "Building stronger fan engagement through technology is the future of sports, and while it will never replace the thrill of live events, 'The Open for The Ages' demonstrates how technology can keep pushing the boundaries of what it is possible in sports broadcasting.""
Will Artificial Intelligence replace live coaches? I don't think so (I have been wrong before though) . Unlike robot umpires, coaching is a fine art vs an exact science and you will always need the human element of experience to be able to understand what motivates your athletes and how they learn best. A.I. has come a long way though and as it advances, it gives a more valuable toolset for coaches to use to enhance what they already do with players. While "replacing coaches" is probably just a marketing ploy to get noticed, the smart coaches will embrace A.I. and see how it fits into their toolbox of developing athletes.
Technology hailed as a 'game-changer' will expose identities of racist trolls who hurl abuse at players after likes of Raheem Sterling, Tammy Abraham and Paul Pogba were all targeted
Social media is an incredible fan engagement tool due to its ability to allow fans to get close to and interact with their favorite athletes. With this accessibility though comes the unfortunate dark side. We always hear and see the abuse that players receive online due to the supposed anonymity of social media which creates a toxic environment and drives athlete away from the platforms shutting down interactions that could be so positive in growing their team and sport. A new technology now promises to uncover trolls from social platforms and attempt to create a safe space. It will be interested to see if this or any other tools can work in curbing the abuse without running afoul of privacy laws or issues, since the platforms themselves haven't been able to tackle the problem effectively