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How The Sports Industry Can Benefit From Digital Transformation

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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INTERVIEW: Digital transformation is taking place in the sports industry, but what are the goals and preconditions for a technological revolution?

The sports industry might not be the biggest sector in the world, but it is not immune from the forces of digital transformation and might even be uniquely placed to take advantage of new technologies. 

That’s the view of  Sebastián Lancestremère, general manager of Microsoft Sport, who claims sports organisations can massively increase their revenues through the better use of data and by applying social media models, particularly with regards to content, to their business

Some teams are ahead of the curve. Real Madrid and Manchester City are already using digital, social media and big data to learn more about and engage their fanbase as the world of sport competes with other forms of entertainment for fans’ time and money. 

table football

Digital Transformation in sport 

Indeed, one of the challenges for sport is that the fabled and ill-defined ‘millennial’ demographic wants to consume sport on demand and in bite size chunks.  

Falling Premier League ratings and attempts by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to appeal to younger audiences with new sports and the Olympic Channel are symptoms of this concern within the industry and an acknowledgement that sport is not immune to disruption. 

“The biggest opportunity compared to other verticals is that your customers are your fans,” Lancestremère tells Silicon. “You have millions of people that love your brand. 

“I’ve been working at Microsoft across different verticals for the past 20 years and I see there is a big opportunity in sports for two reasons. They might have some legacy systems but it is not as complex as what you might find in a bank or a telco.

“Organisations are much smaller. There’s not so much bureaucracy and the possibility to help them transform [is much greater]. So we’re seeing there is an opportunity.” 

Like other industry buzzwords such as the Internet of Things (IoT), digital transformation means many things to many people, so what does it mean to the world of sport? 

Lancestremère says the main things are having a digital platform in place and to have the right processes to harness the power of new technology. 

“The first thing is a digital platform which is not a CRM, not a social listening tool or a website and application. Those are not platforms. The platform connects all of the digital assets – your online store, your physical store, your website, your ticketing system, membership database – every single asset and every single touchpoint and connect that to a single database.  

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