What lessons can businesses learn from the world of sport?


Man City SAP partnership

The use of technology in the sports industry is often associated with IoT devices such as a FitBit, or even Nike’s latest self-tying shoes, but it does a lot more. The industry is extremely innovative when it comes to adopting new technology and many businesses should take stock of what sports stars and teams are doing, and learn from their example.

Darrel Pugh, Head of Sports and Entertainment for UK and Ireland at SAP, took the time to share some lessons that he thinks SMEs can learn from the application of technology in sport:

Understand the value of a long term strategy

Digital transformation is commonly perceived as a fast activity, and many expect immediate results. But the best value from investment comes from creating a long term digital transformation strategy. Manchester City Football Group’s new recruitment process is a great example of this. Over time, SAP worked with Manchester City to collate the performance data of scouts, creating a platform which hosts player details and updates based on competition performance. Using this tailored analytics platform, the group is now able to monitor all relevant scouting information in real time, with one scouting calendar, helping the team to recruit the best players on the market.

Similarly, businesses can implement technology to help streamline their recruiting process, giving them the advantage of eliminating a digital skills gap within their workplace.

Take a bespoke approach to transformation

Digital transformation doesn’t necessarily mean an overhaul of all tools and processes. In most cases, businesses only need to make minor changes and it’s important for organisations to take a step back and assess exactly what they need to achieve. The National Hockey League (NHL) did this in 2014, unlocking the full potential of the information it already had available and using it to bring the game to life in a new and meaningful way for fans.

The Hockey League’s brand created a bespoke platform for NHL fans, which helps them gain access to player and team performance in real time. This helped the NHL enhance engagement with fans, and ultimately built on their previous offering.

To get the best value from new tools, businesses should follow this example, assess their wider goals and invest in technologies accordingly. What’s surprising is that, in most instances, the information they need to provide additional insights, is already available. By tailoring transformation to key goals, businesses can ensure their objectives are met; whether they are: reaching new consumers, retaining existing customers or creating additional services.

Use analytics to bring out the best of your business

Big data is a common phrase which we hear bounced around in business, but many are failing to use it in the right way. Data analytics should be used to add value to a business, helping them to use insights to streamline processes and uncover hidden patterns. In parallel to this, data analytics is used in sports to help boost player performance, the same way businesses use data insights to boost its performance in the market.

After a full year of collecting data from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) matches, and opening up the development process to players and coaches, we launched an on-court coaching platform which is av
ailable on a tablet.  The platform allows coaches to track real-time match data from the coach’s box and, if needed, use the tablet as a visual aid during on-court coaching timeouts. This ultimately adds value to the player’s performance, and therefore should be replicated by business leaders, to help enhance employee performance, drive productivity and improve sales.

When looking at ways to improve business processes and to digital transform, organisations should look to the sporting world. After all, many of the top athletes and teams are currently at the forefront of innovation.

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