The National Football League’s (NFL) 2012 season is far from over. But already it seems that a handful of teams are leading the pack – because of their investments in big data analytics and mobile applications.
Before the 2012 season began, a few teams— including the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Cincinnati Bengals – ramped up their IT systems to roll out the NFL’s first generation of digital playbooks.
Of these few, only the 49ers are taking this functionality to the next level: The team recently began working with SAP to create for 49er fans a game-day stadium experience that’s powered by analytics and mobility.
Empowering Coaches and Players
Powered by custom analytics and mobility apps running on team-owned iPads, the digital playbooks replace the cumbersome 1,000+ page binders that generations of coaches and players have schlepped between meetings, locker rooms, homes, and hotels. While all the time keeping these precious books close at hand – to study the game plans 24/7 and perhaps more important, protect the team’s secrets from falling into enemy hands.
By using digital playbooks to facilitate the distribution of a team’s knowledge assets (plays, game strategies, and opponent intelligence), management is giving its coaches and players – as digital strategy and mobility expert Bzur Haun reports – three game-changing advantages:
- Speed: Coaches can now distribute new plays immediately, anytime, anywhere. Teams have eliminated the costs of publishing and distributing paper documents; players are studying new plays sooner, often many hours earlier than is possible when using paper-based playbooks.
- Insight: Coaches can quickly analyze league statistics and team intelligence and generate reports about upcoming opponents; players can watch game films soon after a game ends.
- Security: Teams can easily protect their plays and strategies behind passwords and roles. If an iPad is lost or stolen, IT managers can remotely strip the unrecoverable device’s memory.
Redefining a Team’s Operations, Reimagining the Fan Experience
Of the teams now using digital playbooks, only the San Francisco 49ers is developing a model for using technology to improve a team’s business and stadium services. To accomplish this, the team is now partnering with SAP to create an integrated IT system that leverages big data analytics and mobile software.
Behind the scenes, this new system will connect all of the team’s core operations, enabling business leaders to gain better insight into the entire enterprise, from HR activities to creative initiatives.
In the public’s eye, the system will power the team’s new home field and practice facility, Santa Clara Stadium and the SAP Training Center. (Both will open before the 2014 season.) During games, fans will have instant access to all of the team’s digital touch points – including its Web site, Twitter account, and Facebook page. Meaning, they can instantly get stats on a team’s red-zone performance, a quarterback’s success in converting third-and-long into a first down, or a kicker’s stats on his previous attempts at 45+-yard field goals in overtime.
More commonly associated with enabling business teams than with empowering football players, software for analytics and mobility is increasingly proving its value to enhance any activity performed in today’s virtually connected world. Soon, the strategic advantage won’t simply be that an organization does use analytics and mobile applications, but rather how it innovatively leverages the functionality which a particular solution provides.
Is your company using analytics and mobile software in an uncommon way? If so, what advantages has it been gaining? What challenges has it faced in using these applications? Is it planning to increase its investment in analytics and mobility applications? If so, what kind of functionality does it need? What kind of results is it expecting to gain?