Tomorrow is this year’s Super Bowl. On Thursday last week, a press release announced that SAP plans to acquire a German ticketing company called Ticket-Web GmbH & Co. KG. The timing of the announcement was interesting in that SAP is a Stadium Partner for 49ers and the Ticket-Web acquisition is another sports-related move. I’d like to provide a quick analysis of the acquisition and then reflect on its broader implications based on other sports-related activities from SAP.
The press release provides some of the reasoning behind the move. Here are the relevant passages:
- The move paves the way for SAP to offer enhanced solutions to help promoters, venues and teams market events over the Internet and better support arena management.
- In today’s environment, tens of thousands of transactions such as ticket sales can be executed in hours, or even minutes. These could be from fans anywhere, using mobile devices. SAP envisions a scenario where the high-speed SAP HANA platform, combined with BI reporting tools, could give promoters insights — in real time — to better understand which marketing tactics worked and which did not, giving them far more speed and agility to refine offerings to better respond to consumer needs and improve sales.
- “SAP is committed to delivering solutions in the world of sports and entertainment that enhance the fan experience, provide real-time insights to improve performance and help sport and event management organizations run like never before,” said Bernd Leukert, executive vice president for Applications, SAP. “The addition of Ticket-Web combined with solutions like SAP HANA and SAP Mobile Platform will help us connect with sports and entertainment fans around the world.”
What sort of products does the company provide:
Ticket-Web has two main product lines: Entree Tickets and Entree CRM. Entree Tickets is a multilingual, multicurrency online ticketing system with Web services interfaces to other applications. Like a number of other ticketing platforms, it allows the sale of traditional paper tickets for postal delivery or collection at the box office, or for sending tickets electronically to mobile phones or for printing at home. Entree CRM operates together with Entree Tickets or independently to manage one-to-one marketing campaigns. It also offers bookkeeping, point-of-sale and contact management tools. [SOURCE]
Other details about Ticket-Web
Most reports about the acquisition primarily focus on the details from the press release. If you examine the details provided by the Ticket-Web web site, there are other interesting tidbits of information that emerge.
Note: The Ticket-Web website is currently only in German, so I’ll be sending the relevant quotes through Google Translate to broad the audience. So please excuse the quotes if they sound sort of strange.
- The official press release just mentions CRM and Ticketing but Ticket-Web also provides products for portal and finance-related requirements both of which are connected to the main ticketing offering. There is obviously a bit of an overlap there with what SAP provides [SOURCE] but demonstrates the level of interaction possible.
- The ticketing product includes various functions including Invoice Management, Shipping Management, Price Management, etc. [SOURCE]. Support for different POS systems and specialty printers is also available. Thus, I assume that product is relatively mature although from the customer list it appears that the majority of customers are from Germany and Austria rather than global.
- The company provides “PicTickets” for mobile devices and local printing: “PicTickets are electronic tickets that can be delivered to you particularly quickly and easily. You can to the existing shipping methods (mail, box office, deposit) your tickets now directly sent to your phone or print it yourself at home. Simply select pay event, and PicTicket send directly to the phone or can print at home. A mobile version you get a (visual) text message to the mobile phone you have selected. Instead of a ticket you just take your phone to the event. Your ticket will be at the inlet (Picture SMS) scanned directly from your phone screen – that’s all”. [SOURCE]
- Entree Ticket also has “web-services” for integration purposes.
- The fact that the ticketing offer is web-based should make a transition to a cloud-based solution (HANA Cloud?) easier. I have no idea if a multi-tenant solution for the ticket offering would be possible.
Scenarios involving ticket sales are perfect for cloud environments where demand can spike dramatically (A Depeche Mode concert in London sold out in minutes). One of the largest ticket agencies – TicketMaster – is a poster child for AWS. If not already hosted on a cloud environment, I assume that Ticket-Web will move to cloud environment soon.
As the press release emphasizes, Ticket-Web presents an excellent opportunity to exploit HANA’s speed and analytical features. I could imagine interesting scenarios involving flexible pricing for tickets based on HANA. Ticket-Web’s Entree CRM product would also be enhanced with HANA to allow customers to more rapidly access the reaction of ticket sales associated with particular campaigns.
Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and SAP Marketing is creating quite a buzz around SAP’s involvement in football and in sports in general. I’ve talked about my understanding of this attention in previous blogs and I see the Ticket-Web acquisition as a move by SAP to capture another piece of the sports fan experience.
TicketWeb is at the initial point of such fan experiences – when you show your intention to attend an event. Previously, SAP has focused on this experience during the sporting event itself (as seen in SAP’s cooperation with the 49ers regarding arena management). With Ticket-Web, SAP now has the ability to start interaction with end-users much earlier. Instead of waiting for a user to attend the game before interacting, now SAP and its customers can interact over a greater length of time. A fan may purchase his tickets months in advance. During this extended period, mobile apps can provide personalized content (including ads) to fans. The official press release also describes a similar motivation (albeit without any mention of ads):
An integrated ticketing solution can help promoters boost attendance, deepen customer engagement and optimize profitability by tailoring offers to individual customers and expanding their business.
This “vision” comes from the very top of SAP as seen in this recent video of co-CEO Bill McDermott talking with CNBC’s Jim Cramer .
The data that will be accumulated in such extended interactions could also be to be aggregated with data that SAP already has from other sources. The use of HANA will then be used to analyze this data and then provide it to SAP customers like Budweiser for a price. Such customers could then provide personalized content.
Other ticketing systems already exist. Why would customers consider using SAP’s future ticketing solution. Here are few possible reasons:
- Better integration with SAP back-end systems. Many customers / arenas already have SAP systems – I assume that such integration would be priced accordingly and work better than the solutions of other competitors.
- Package deals. Customers who purchase sports-related solutions might be offered the ticketing functionality at a reduced price.
- Mobile apps. SAP already has fan experience apps planned. Such apps cover a wide variety of fan-related activities. Instead of having a ticketing app separated from other fan apps, I assume that such ticketing activities could be integrated in one environment. Other competitors who just have ticketing solutions probably can not offer mobile apps with such breadth.
I’ve been primarily focusing in this blog on sports. If you look at the current events provided by Ticket-Web, however, you will see that the majority of tickets offered there are for non-sports activities. There are tickets for museums, rock stars, comedy shows, etc. Imagine a SAP sponsorship for Taylor Swift or perhaps a major arena that focuses on concerts. Parts of the existing fan app – currently used for sports customers- might be re-used. You might not have HANA-based stats of players but you might have HANA-based analysis of the popularity of songs.