ATP World Tour Finals shows off early stages of new technology partnership with Infosys, which is hoped will grow the sport
Sport and technology have become increasingly common bedfellows over the past few years as sports organisations seek new ways to improve things on the field of play and improve business operations off it.
The ATP tennis tour is no exception, signing up Infosys as an official technology partner. As part of the deal, Infosys is refreshing the official websites, the players’ application – which lets tennis stars register for tournaments, plan trips and connect with other players – and moving the ATP’s technology infrastructure to the cloud.
However, speaking at the ATP World Tour Finals in London this past week, Infosys said it wanted to go beyond these ‘traditional’ processes and create something new. In 2015, there has never been so much competition for spectators’ time in terms of both watching and playing sport and the ATP wants to make sure it can convert physical fans into digital ones too.
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Tennis and technology
Data analytics is central to this ambition. The ATP has access to 40 years’ worth of data and the hope is that by analysing this, commentators can provide additional information to spectators and offer insights through official channels.
To begin with, Infosys has focused on umpire data from the past year across all ATP tournaments and Hawkeye data from the Tour Finals from the past five years. Stats such as shot speed, serve accuracy, types of shots and records on certain surfaces are analysed to create insights.
Indeed, Infosys claims 240,000 records and 12 million data points can be analysed in real time using its open source Infosys Information Platform (IIP). Before every match, three or four key facts are provided to the media to use in their reporting – but not the players.
Such statistical analysis is important for the embryonic future vision the ATP and Infosys have for both the match-going fan and the armchair supported.
Applications for those attending evens will allow for personalised offers, instant replays, additional information and the ability to connect with friends also attending, while virtual reality and statistics will help those who can’t attend matches get the next best thing to being there.
This, it is hoped, will not only increase interest in tennis but also make more money for governing bodies and tournament operators through ticket sales, merchandising opportunities and other revenue streams.
However all the in-stadium features require connectivity and a desire among fans to actually participate. Monetisation could also be a factor, as spectators have already paid significant amounts for tickets and TV viewers might resent paying more than just a TV subscription.
But these are all opportunities being explored by other sports, including football, basketball and ice hockey, and also other tennis organisations. IBM partners with Wimbledon and the other three Grand Slam tournaments for behind the scenes and customer-facing support in the hope of attracting more attention and fans.
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