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    Tech Stretching 675

    With digital transforming all industries, sport too is feeling the influence of technology, and mostly for the better. Between sophisticated software, precise data and AI, everyone from fan to coach has the tools they need for the best possible experience. Global Sports and our panel of experts explore more.

    Digital technology has augmented the sport experience for fans in numerous ways, be it Ultra HD live coverage of their favourite club's matches, or wearable gadgets that have boosted athletic performance.

    The ultimate aim for brands in this space is to use technology to tangibly enrich the experience of the sports enthusiast, helping to build a relationship of trust and loyalty with each consumer.

    As digital technology grows ever more sophisticated, the specialist workforce that drives it must become larger, more refined, skilled and knowledgeable. GlobalSportsJobs is leading the flow of that talent into the industry.

    Many organisations have also tapped into exploiting digital technology and have reaped the benefits.

    For the Sports Person & Coach

    Hudl , for example, provide software that's revolutionising the way coaches and athletes prepare for and stay ahead of the competition. Their video performance analysis products are leading directly to young athletes earning places at top American colleges and universities.

    One of Hudl's products, Hudl Assist, allows athletes to film and create highlight videos of their own performances, overlaying clips with annotations that highlight particular moments of skill or areas of tactical interest.

    The videos, when posted online, have helped to attract the attention of recruiters and brought offers of scholarships. "It's very, very valuable and critical," said Mike Cooper, coach of the DQ Queens 17U girls' basketball team in Fort Worth, Texas.

    "We had all the players put highlight reels together and send them to the schools they were interested in. It definitely helps, getting those players out there and exposing them to these coaches.”

    Hudl's technology isn't solely about showcasing athletes. It's primarily for performance review, analysis and improvement. But there's a further benefit to end users – injury prevention.

    The scrutiny of coaching sessions and matchplay on Hudl's software can reduce the need for many hours of physical repetitions in training, thus limiting athletes' exposure to fatigue, wear and tear, and injuries.

    “I think it’s really important, especially for the old-school coaches that have been around forever, that they can use Hudl in general for the safety of their athletes,” says Penfield High School (NY) American football head coach Jay Johnson.

    Hudl helps make practices shorter and more efficient, with time spent afterwards studying what went right or wrong. “With Hudl I don’t have to get a kid to pound his head into another kid 80 times to get 80 reps,” Johnson said. “I can have them do it 10-20 times, and then they can watch it and create muscle memory through that."

    For the Fan

    Fans are engaged in a rather different way by firms such as Nielsen Sports , the premier provider of analytics and insights within the sports industry. Although the information they provide is ultimately to enable clubs, federations, sponsors and marketers to monetise customers more effectively, it's also about providing each fan with a personalised service that satisfies their sporting passions.

    "All [marketing] activity should stem from the fan," says Max Burnett, Global Head of Digital at Nielsen Sports. "Any activation has to be authentic and enhance the fan's day-to-day relationship with the club or athlete they love. If a brand isn't doing that, it's just disruptive.

    "It all goes back to how well an organisation knows its fans. What are their triggers and passions? There are plenty of opportunities for rights holders, as long as the fan is having a good time. That's why having in-depth data on them is so important. That insight is what we provide."

    Leading international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media are also focused on enriching the end user's experience by providing a tailored service that engages them on a deeper level.

    "The revenue business model is no longer about reach," says Claude Ruibal, Infront's Executive Director – Digital, Production and Sports Solutions. "Offerings that provide a solution to a fan’s specific sports interests, combined with the ability to access that content anywhere in the world, allows a rights holder to aggregate a global audience and provide them with exactly what they want. You create for them a daily destination for the things they love."

    This deep knowledge of customers through digital tools also helps retailers INTERSPORT provide a better service.

    "It helps us better understand our customers," says Cristina Schneider "As technology advances, we have stronger tools to analyse consumers' buying habits, engage with our customers through social media, help us optimise our stock assortment and tailor that for different markets. The more we integrate new technologies into our business processes, the more successful we can be in our strategic decisions."

    This sense of 'closeness' between sports companies and their customers (forged by digital technology) is benefiting both parties. It can boost careers, enhance athletic performance or prevent injury, or simply allow fans to fulfil and express their sporting passions.

    This article was produced by the Global Sports Editorial Team.




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