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Author's profile photo Marcus Olson

Digitization of Sports & Fan Engagement

“Yeah it stung”, Curry went on, “it sucked to watch them celebrate…wish that would have been us” was the solemn remarks that Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors shared during his post-game interview after losing to the Cleveland Cavilers in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. While it’s tough to be on the losing end of a championship game or series in any sport there is an increasing amount of what I refer to as “sideline winners” who engage in sports not as a player but as a fan.


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If you’re scratching your head about what I’m referring to as metaphor for fans being “sideline winners” it’s that the sports industry as a whole is embracing the Digital Transformation in almost every aspect of the business in order to more effectively reach their #1 customer – the fans.
Fans are the lifeline of sports and without them as an audience the purpose behind competing teams in a championship tournament to win the ultimate prize diminishes rapidly. Isn’t it more fun to celebrate victories with friends and family rather than just yourself? In the Business of Sports fans are the ultimate prize to seek, capture and monetize from as a customer base that can span multiple generations who may be considered Digital Dinosaurs or Digital Immigrants to ones who are Digital Natives.


In Sports </Big> Data is the new black

The rapid advancements made in digital technology have created an explosion of data ranging from in-depth player performance and health, field, court and track conditions, equipment feedback, tactical team evaluations using athletic performance attributes, gameplay tactics for home and away (visitors); the index of data points continues to grow with innovation. The added effect of the digital transformation has garnered new ways for teams, leagues and organizations to engage fans on a whole new level by bridging the digital divide in making this information easily accessible to fans and turning that engagement into meaningful ways of promoting more of what fans want to experience from their sport of choice.

In order to effectively capture a fan base, organizations need to execute the right plays:

  • Provide deeper insights into what’s happening on and off the field of play.
  • Embrace SoLoMo – Social (So) and Local (Lo) to build a strong brand with fans through social networks keeping them interested and involved around their local area; Mobile (Mo) first attitude as fans treat their personal devices as their second screen.
  • Make the interaction easy for all generations of fans. Sports events have a quick pace to them so your fan engagement should be nimble and simple to use.


How does SAP fit into the Digitization of Sports?

Great question since you are probably wondering what a company that is world renowned for running the core business processes of some of the globe’s largest companies is doing playing in the field of Sports. You may be surprised to know that SAP has created unique solutions in over ten different sport categories with partnerships in leagues that are known around the world such as European Football (featuring The German National Football Club), National Football League (NFL), National Basketball League (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to name a few. To get a glimpse of how active SAP is in the world of sports check out this video and watch the innovative SAP applications that have digitally transformed each sporting event here

At the core of these systems are platform technologies such as SAP HANA, SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform and SAP Hybris used independently or together to provide best of class solutions for the sports industry. While SAP has created a catalog of products to address almost every aspect of the business of sports from team performance and management, event ticketing and marketing, and fan and customer loyalty, SAP also offers its platform technology for ISV Partners (Independent Software Vendors) to build and embed this same technology to propel their unique sports solutions. The approach of enabling other software vendors to take advantage of the same technology that SAP builds its own sports industry applications on creates an evolvingecosystem of products that not only apply to sports organizations but also that #1 customer base – the fans.


Creating the Golden Fan Record

What if you could bring multiple feeds of information from social sites, web, emails, retail, ticketing, social walls, broadcast television and disparate data stores into a consolidated record that displayed everything about a sports fan? In essence, create a 360 degree view that shows an almost DNA-like make-up of a fan with a unified view of their activities, behaviors, interests and passions. Would that be of value to a sports organization? Yes! And this is exactly what Phizzle a San Francisco based engagement automation software company has created and coined the Golden Fan Record.


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Using their unique FanTracker algorithm Phizzle is able to produce a complete fan profile using multiple channels of input. This enables sports organizations to better manage their fan engagement, identify personalized marketing opportunities, automate the convergence of fan data, track ticketing transactions and tap into fan interests at the right moment, and at the right location all in a meaningful manner.

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Social Wall by Phizzle

Some examples where Phizzle was able to power a new level of fan engagement was 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore and Super Bowl 50 (SB50) in San Francisco. During the WTA Finals SAP showcased a Social Wall relaying in real-time, posts across social networks on fan favorite female tennis players and taking advantage of Phizzle’s ability to bring tennis fans together across many channels.

I experienced Phizzle’s fan engagement technology first hand during Super Bowl 50 as a volunteer in Super Bowl City in San Francisco. SAP had designed a mobile application for SB50 volunteers to conveniently manage their assignments and turned to Phizzle’s engagement engine to help incent volunteers to use the app. By incorporating the FanTracker API from Phizzle volunteers were able to collect points for completing tasks, checking in-out, training, and awarding social posts using #SB50 all flowing though the gamification and loyalty features. This kept me active in the app as I gathered points for my activities and leveling up in pursuit of the volunteer prizes. While it’s far from the feeling of winning a championship game I became a “sideline winner” as I got to experience a new level of fan engagement and it made my participation part of the action during the Super Bowl.
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Power of SAP Platforms and Technology

I mentioned earlier in my blog that SAP has made its platform technologies available for ISVs to build and innovate on to achieve new milestones along the digital transformation path. Phizzle is an SAP Partner that chose to build on SAP technology using SAP HANA and SAP BusinessObjects BI to power their market leading fan engagement solution and provide deep insights into the Golden Fan Record. And the partnership does not stop there, it continues to evolve between SAP and Phizzle with the introduction of new SAP technology such as SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (previously known as Cloud for Analytics). Using this new technology Phizzle was able to create a demonstration used at SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 (SAP’s annual user conference) titled “Enrich Consumer Intelligence to Drive the Fan-to-Customer Journey”. As Stephen Goldberg – CTO of Engineering at Phizzle writes  “We collaborated with the teams from both and SAP Business Objects Analytics and came up with an awesome POC demonstrating the power of consumer management, gamification, and analyticspowered by, and Cloud for Analytics.. You can read more about this demonstration from Stephen’s blog:

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Consumer Intelligence by Phizzle using SAP BusinessObjects Cloud

SAP’s ISV Partner ecosystem continues to grow through the adoption of SAP platforms and technology, and through co-innovation projects with Partners to bring forth new ways to capture what each organization on the playing field competes for – the majority of the market share and the creation of a loyal fan base.

Please contact us if you would like to find out more on how you can embed and OEM some of SAP’s technology into your own products and applications across any industry to create your own ‘fans’.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      This is a great introduction to the capabilities of all of these technologies!  Thank you for your diligence!

      Phizzle is doing great work!