Norwich City FC – The Move to Drive Revenue and Engagement with a Truly Integrated Digital Eco-System
Great move by Norwich City Football Club ! The smart organizations understand the long term value in technology is an omni-channel platform and strategy to engage/understand fans and partners and increase revenue vs one off activation's. They brought on the right business partner for it!
We are well underway with Sports 2.0 in North America and we will soon be awarding championships. It’s definitely a little strange with the fans missing and some sports being played in a bubble but it is a leap in the right direction. While it’s great that we have returned to action on the field, ice and diamond, teams should be in full planning mode for the day that fans are allowed back through the gates and into the stands.
The big question is how will the fans react in a world that looks very different from when we last saw it in March? Luckily teams don’t need to figure this out on their own. There are a myriad of great sports tech and data companies who have done nothing but work to prepare for the day that the fans come back. Coming back is a huge task and you should be able to lean on your vendors not just for great tech but also to be valuable business partners as they can bring a unique view of the industry to help you achieve targets and grow your fan base.
Here are 3 game changing tech companies that are perfectly positioned to help your team hit the ground running, cover the fan journey and make you shine on your Sports 2.0 strategy.
StellarAlgo is a company I’ve written a lot about because they are the leaders in i) predictive customer analytics, ii) understanding who your fans are, and iii) personalizing as necessary to get them to your event. They were one of our partners at Tennis Canada for our Rogers Cup event and were invaluable in helping us to grow and activate our audience. I can think of no company better to help navigate uncharted waters. StellarAlgo provides game changing technology and is also a true business partner who can be counted on to collaborate with your team to get full value out of ticketing, CRM, email and digital marketing analytics. Effectively tying together both online and offline data sources into a single customer view to personalize and activate on insights is such a new area in the world of sports that it pays to have a partner that lives and breathes in this area instead of trying to figure it out alone in house. Let your Vendor do the heavy lifting which frees up more time for your analysts to…do analysis!
Some key benefits of bringing StellarAlgo into your ecosystem:
In sports 2.0, fans’ eventual return to venues will be at a reduced capacity with social distancing protocols in place. How do you provide in-venue experiences that will encourage fans to return? How do you manage the atmosphere with a reduced capacity? How do you create exclusive experiences only available to those in attendance? Enter ProWire — a technology that lets fans at the game stream in-game audio channels in real-time via their phone. Think commentary, live coach and player mics, and ambient game sound effects all delivered fast enough to be in-sync with the action in front of you.
This technology is all about elevating the experience for fans in the stands and bringing them closer to the action. We installed ProWire at Aviva Centre and were set to debut it at the Rogers Cup this summer. For me, the easy install, the fact it runs on my existing WiFi network (and now 5G is an option), and that the fan experience could all be packaged up within the Rogers Cup app made it an obvious choice. They provide a suite of activation options for our sponsors and an impressive array of data analytics on usage.
While it’s a great technology for a packed stadium, ProWire will also find their sweet spot in the gradual return of fans. For venues, it’s about utilizing technology to deploy content strategically — to bring people together with a common experience and overcome the obvious implications that social distancing entails. It’s also a great opportunity to make use of the “enhanced audio” and specialized in-game betting broadcasts that have been a major feature in the return of live sports on TV. Give fans a comparable experience when they’re back!
Some key benefits of bringing ProWire into your ecosystem:
WaitTime is a perfect example of a multi-use technology. WaitTimes main objective is to steer fans to the shortest lines in concessions, bathrooms etc to increase per caps in venue and also sell digital assets on the video board to sponsors. During Covid, they have pivoted to use their cameras and technology to help maintain social distancing in venues which is great for the return of fans which is a crucial component of safe venue protocols. The technology provides value to fans, sponsors and collects data analytics which hits key revenue drivers in the business.
Some Key Benefits of WaitTime:
Don’t try and reinvent your business alone. I’ve outlined 3 great sports technology companies that will drive huge value to your Sports 2.0 strategy and there are many others out there willing to help you strategize and execute. Only through collaboration and partnership can you recover, grow and reimagine your business model moving forward.
Great read on AI's role in securing stadiums.
From the article:
"With security solutions, one of the biggest issues with any security investment is a lack of an ROI. This is where AI security is breaking the mould. The ability to provide business analytics, consumer/fan behaviours, traffic patterns, etc, allows other departments within the organization to gain vital information that can assist with their strategies and practices."
Leagues are getting creative with virtual fans. It will be interesting to see how virtual fans are integrated with real fans when they are allowed back in venue because there is ample opportunity to bring in the fan who can't make it to the match and get them close to the action. A smartly planned mix of virtual and real fan integration also provides the platform for advanced data analytics and expanded digital assets to generate incremental revenue.
I love to discuss revenue generation, fan engagements and cool sports tech in general because its fun and moves the needle. One topic that isn't sexy and isn't noticed until it's too late more often than not is cybersecurity. Nothing can sink an organization and its reputation faster than a high profile security breach. Even a low level breach can cost your company millions of dollars and cripple operations, yet many teams don't put a focus on it until it's too late and the damage has been done.
I've always made sure to work with some great security partners in my career such as ESet and Source 44 consulting because it is critical to have a non-biased outside source helping you be proactive in securing your infrastructure before a problem occurs. As we continue to digitally transform and decentralize technology we are also creating access points which put our data and company at risk if not properly secured. A proper cyber security strategy will save money, your reputation and your job. Look to experts to help you and don't try and do it solely with in house resources as that is a recipe for failure.
Cool Sports Tech Alert:
Using analytics and video technology, Stanford researchers have created a computer generated Wimbledon. This is early stage but very cool(actually mind-blowing) tech that will have huge implications across the sports world.
From the article:
"Inspired by the booming sports analytics trend which uses heaps of game videos to create predictive models for athlete behaviour, the Stanford researchers combined such modelling with image-based rendering to construct interactively controllable video “sprites” that mimic the styles and performance of top tennis pros.
“Our system can generate novel points between professional tennis players that resemble Wimbledon broadcasts, enabling new experiences such as the creation of matchups between players that have not competed in real life, or interactive control of players in the Wimbledon final,” the researchers explain in the paper detailing their approach."
Dodgers Focusing On Stadium Future With Contactless Tech, Analytics For All And Eventual Facial Recognition
The Dodgers putting into practicing what readers of my blog have been hearing me preach about religiously. A revenue focused technology strategy built in partnership with the business is the key to growing as an organization moving forward. Building upon a solid infrastructure, the Dodgers see the value that technology can bring fans and partners and generate the team tremendous revenue as a result.
The teams not investing in infrastructure and technology will not be poised for success and will get left behind in the post covid world. There have been billions of dollars lost in the last few months and teams need to use technology to help recover and move forward because you can only sell so many tickets and put so many signs on the field. The Dodgers aren't just putting in tech for tech's sake, they are tying it back to a strategy that engages fans, partners and drives revenue. That's how you get buy-in and cooperation from senior leadership.
From the Article:
"Venues prepared, both from an infrastructure and programming standpoint, will be the ones most poised to capture and elevate the fan experience. “If they are not prepared,” Dasgupta says, “you can’t support all these devices and can’t support safe transactions and will take five steps back. They want to be ready.”"
The flood gates are opening on sports and betting partnerships. By now, most organizations are actively exploring gaming partnerships and activations because it's the best way to engage a coveted demo and has huge potential for incremental revenues that would be diverted outside the organization otherwise. Whatever your stance on gaming, you can't deny that it's a huge engagement driver for sports and in an age where the consumer has unlimited choice it is crucial to give them what they want and do it better than anyone else.
In preparation for the betting revolution, teams need to make sure they have a solid technology infrastructure in place to take advantage and create the best experience possible. Solid WiFi in-venue (Hello Wifi 6 and 5G), an advanced analytics team to bring the fans the information they demand and solid activations that can be offered to betting specific brands and partners are all table stakes to getting and keeping fans engaged.
There also needs to be solid technology and processes in-place to make sure that all gaming is done legally and adheres to all guidelines. In the big money world of betting, it takes a massive amount of resources to stay ahead of the bad guys and organizations must band together to share resources against corruption and fraud.
As we become more climate conscious, green technology will take a more prominent role and centre stage in venue design and refresh. The Climate Pledge arena has gone all in on green stadium design and is acting as a model for all organizations to follow with their innovative use of renewable energy technology.
The smart organizations will design a strategy around renewable technology that will be great for the environment but also great at generating revenue and reducing operating costs. This should enhance your overall smart venue goals and be a pillar and enabler in your mission to grow your organization.
With SoFi stadium and Austin FC stadium the latest venues to be outfitted with Wifi 6 infrastructure, I'm still amazed that some current venues are refreshing current Wifi infrastructure with 802.1ac also known as...Wifi 5. The thought process being that there is a lack of devices that can currently take advantage of Wifi 6 and the cost will be too prohibitive upfront. This short term thinking will cost a lot more in the end when you aren't able to compliment 5G or use any of the features that Wifi6/5G brings (Speed and capacity being the 2 keys). Smart Venues and IOT initiatives will only work in a WIFI/5G environment and must be part of any long term strategy in order for tech to be a value driver in the organization. Otherwise, you end up with something that the equivalent of using a flip phone in a smartphone world.
Build a solid forward looking, ROI focused tech strategy on the technology's that will grow your organization in the next 3-5 years.