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How to improve your handicap

There is so much in the news at SAP today about sports, and there are a ton of people writing and blogging about “how SAP is helping the teams and the fans run better” Which is all good, but I thought I go behind the scenes and look at the men and women, who, by using SAP technologies, have created sport “THINGS” that are very exciting!

It is all about Golf today: I would like to write about the guys in our engineering team who looked at how we can tell the SAP story around big data and analytics in a compelling and interesting way in the area of Golfing. It’s a sports project and one that I’m very much interested in; it is SAP’s vision to help golfers improve their game. I think that I’m the ideal target for this innovation. I love to play golf, but I’ve never been far beyond the “Platzreife” (License to play golf courses in Germany), but with this I could easily improve my handicap.

So I took a look at how they developed this solution. Using Design Thinking, sensor technology, IOT and working with partners to co-innovate and to collect really important data, that is then analyzed by HANA, with integration and analytics, with real time access via the cloud and simple visualization, they were able to create some really valuable training dashboards.

So let’s answer some of the questions you might have for this team:

How long did it take them to get to the first prototype?

Roughly 2 months. They connected a Doppler radar for capturing the flight path of the ball to a Google Glass, so that the golfer could see selected KPI’s during the ball flight. This prototype was then refined and extended iteratively, ending up with a “Virtual Caddy On-Demand” (automatic stroke tracking via sensors),
“Longest Drive Leaderboard” (flight path analysis with radar device), and “Player Performance Dashboard” (simulations and predictive analytics) – all implemented on HANA Cloud Platform using latest HANA features (e.g. Geospatial Services) and state-of-the-art visualization (e.g. UI5, Fiori).

What were some of the hurdles the team had to jump over to get to where the project is today?

During the project, they had to master a couple of challenges: one was, to be honest, the SAP technologies. What they used was still under development, so they had to build the solution on internal lab versions (e.g. HANA Geospatial). Also SAP is not a sensor manufacturer, so they had to look for partners to help us out (e.g. TrackMan).

What was the biggest challenge they faced?

You cannot design a desirable solution if you don’t understand the problem space. So the development team got some hands on experience on the golf course in St. Leon-Rot, Germany, to understand the complexity of the game. They additionally, spent a lot of time talking with golf players as well as the golf academy lead, to get deep expertise and valuable insights.

Why is this application important for SAP?

We now have a technology showcase that demonstrates SAP’s innovation and technology leadership in the Sports Industry and what the digitized future of golf could look like. As this showcase perfectly supports our motto “Discover Simple” it will be presented at the CeBIT 2015 exhibition in Hannover.

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