Although many are starting to emerge from the global lockdown, the current crisis has forced the world and with it our working lives to change dramatically over a short period of time and perhaps forever. These are challenging times and the uncertainty for the future and long-term economic impact of Covid-19 means that maintaining a sense of normality when addressing your sporting career can be difficult. However, there is increasing understanding of the opportunities that will emerge from the current situation as the world begins to return to action.
It's not possible today for any of us to predict what the future will look like. However, as we progress through the pandemic, the way the sports industry and wider commercial landscape has adapted provides increasing insights to build our understanding of what the future business of sport may look like when a post Covid-19 world comes into play. These insights are valuable for career development in providing knowledge and optimism as to the opportunities in the new order.
With that in mind, we share insights on what this future landscape may be and how to shift your mindset and approach to draw benefit from the current crisis that will help grow a robust future career.
What will the sports business landscape look like in a post Covid-19 world and how can we prepare? The truth is, we don´t know for sure. What we do know is it will accelerate a paradigm shift in the industry and the sports landscape will change more in the next decade than in several decades preceding it. This will bring with it a whole new spectrum of opportunities that by being proactive and fast acting, you can take advantage of to boost your future career trajectory.
“Covid-19 will shape the world – not just healthcare systems but politics, culture and behaviours – for generations. And in the world of sports, it will accelerate a paradigm shift in how sports is structured and how it is consumed.”
Gareth Balch, Chief Executive Two Circle
Be it new business models, financial structures or even incremental changes in business operations such as marketing or new business pipelines, the sport industry is having to generate new ideas and concepts to adapt to the current situation in order to survive and this is setting the foundations for organisations futures.
The winners in the new world order will grow, or continue to grow their audiences and engagement levels. and they will be able to do so by making considerable innovations with their products and introducing positive change that would have otherwise taken years without the shake up the current crisis has created. For example, it is likely that that the biggest events will command an even greater share of attention, resulting in a consolidation where the bigger sports properties get bigger, new rights-owners come to the forefront, and smaller challenger events are squeezed out or need to innovate to survive.
Ultimately it will be the brave, the smart, and the determined businesses and sectors in sports, those willing to take risks and adapt to new consumption patterns that will bounce back faster and bigger than others.
The same approach should be considered for individuals when assessing future career opportunities. These are not ordinary times, and you need to think differently to take advantage of the situation. Be adaptive and think laterally in terms of where you can add value to organisations based on what they need now through your understanding of their current situation. Pivot your skills and CV to focus on these needs while concentrating on the today and immediate future, as it is the 'now’ organisations that are aiming to navigate.
With almost certainty, the current crisis has and will continue to force organisations to accelerate their digital transformation strategies and is a pivotal moment in the digitalisation of business processes, products, experiences and services and the rapid advancement of innovation in these areas.
“The Covid-19 crisis seemingly provides a sudden glimpse into a future world, one in which digital has become central to every interaction, forcing both organizations and individuals further up the adoption curve almost overnight.”
Simon Blackburn, Senior Partner McKinsey
We see examples from industries across the globe accelerate their digital transformation and sport is following suit. For example, financial services are quickly migrating physical channels online, healthcare providers have moved rapidly into telehealth, insurers into self-service claims assessment and retailers have developed contactless shopping and digital booking and delivery systems. Such digitalisation will continue and include more sports industry products, services and experiences as it does so. With no sporting events and restricted travel, we have seen many sports organisations simply shift their budgets and focus to digital events and digital content. This will likely continue even in a world of live sporting events due to the positive response to new formats of sports consumption and the establishment of infrastructures and communities needed for growth in the longer term.
The ever-evolving world of esports has certainly benefited from the current situation, being able take over the schedule of sports broadcasters, continue to host events and capitalise on attracting a broader captive audience.
“We’re still able to provide that live experience even if players are playing remotely rather than in an arena. We can still create a great atmosphere and offer a world-class product."
Torsten Haux, VP Global Media Rights at ESL
With projected revenues of $1.1 billion this year which are set to jump to $1.2 billion in 2023 esports could be the big winner in the long term. However, the question is will traditional sports include gaming into their strategy in the future even when live sports and events will take place again?
In this unique moment, companies are having to learn, adapt and develop new capabilities more quickly than ever before. In doing so organisations are prioritising looking for talent that will help future proof their organisation, increasingly looking to hire the skills and attributes that can support an agile and digitally centric business practices. Developing robust digital skills, both hard and soft, will place candidates in a strong position in front of future employers.
Understanding cloud-based team and communications channels, digital content management, digital sales, marketing and automation software will all be critical components for teams and businesses to be effective in a more digitally focused world. Bringing tangible experience and expertise in these areas will be well sought after, irrespective of your functional expertise. Teams will become more remote so experience managing remote teams, project managing across time zones, or delivering online workshops or webinars will all be important skill-sets that should be brought to the fore in your profile. This is not an exclusive list of skills, but provides examples of how to position yourself and the types of skills that you should aim to refine and communicate.
Organisations are prioritising looking for talent to help future proof their organisation, increasingly looking to hire the skills and attributes that can support an agile and digitally centric environment.
Spend time gaining insights, learning and building your expertise in relevant digital hard and soft skills that meet the demands of organsiations today that you have identified. This will position you well to accelerate your career prospects in sport when the industry picks up
Adapting your mindset and approach, just as organisations that are effectively navigating the crisis have had to do, is a clear pre-requisite for success in a post Covid world. Here are three important mindset characteristics that will support a more ‘agile’ and ‘future focused’ approach to your career:
Create an adventurous approach to your career. Things have changed, so use this to benefit by appreciating your next job could very well be something different than your previous experiences and don't be afraid to take on new challenges. Take time to connect with the right type of people and developing your personality, your passion, your knowledge and your commitment to create a safe zone for you to explore new emerging business areas in the future.
Develop optimism. Optimistic people regularly outperform people at work, they score higher on aptitude tests, they recover more quickly from illness, and it’s highly likely they will navigate their way through the current situation more effectively than others. For an optimist, it makes no sense to look away. We can always do better, limit the damage, find an alternative solution, rebuild what has been destroyed. The current pandemic is challenging us all on so many levels and to maintain morale and wellbeing, as well as continue to develop and learn from the experience, deploy the behaviours of an Optimist.
Build Resiliency. The ability to absorb a shock and to come out of it better than the competition, this is the key to survival and long-term prosperity. This is not something new, McKinsey research on the 2008 financial crisis found that a small group of companies in each sector outperformed their peers. They did get hurt, with revenues falling about the industry average, but they recovered much faster. What characterised the resilient companies was preparation before the crisis. These times we live in at the moment will not be the last. Pay close attention to what is happening and learn from your experiences so that you will be prepared when the next crisis hits, on a personal level but also in the wider context.
The challenges that lie ahead for the sports industry will being with them great opportunity. An almost Darwinian approach will underpin the rapid evolution of sport in the coming period. As with any defining moments in history, the new world order that will emerge from Covid-19 will bring with it exciting futures for those organisations and people able to adapt and innovate to deliver against a new sporting landscape.
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