Considered by many as the quintessential British event of the year, no other sporting or cultural occasion embodies the pragmatic personality of what it is to be British more so than The Championships, Wimbledon do.
However, as with the British, there is far more to Wimbledon than just a rich heritage and a long and illustrious history. Regarded by many globally as the pre-eminent and most prestigious of tennis tournaments, Wimbledon has now reached a point where it actually transcends sporting and cultural boundaries. However, in order to remain at the very top Wimbledon has had to move with the times and take significant steps to maintain this pre-eminence.
As we all have become more digital, more connected, and more social since the turn of the century, the expectations of what Wimbledon means to visitors, fans and global audiences as a brand and throughout The Championships has also dramatically changed.
More than the on court advances, it is the technology and innovation underpinning the tournament that keeps Wimbledon ahead - and there are new additions each year in support of the All England Lawn Tennis Club's (AELTC) on-going pursuit of greatness.
Consider this: each year over the course of the fortnight, 3.2 million data points are captured, from 19 courts, with an accuracy target of 100% and a sub-second response time - that's a serious amount of data. Highly trained tennis analysts (county level players or above) capture the data and then IBM Systems transform this data in near real time to provide insights to commentators and media. In a matter of seconds this information is available on TV, social channels and millions of digital devices around the world to deliver a fan experience that supports the club's digital vision of cementing digital as the gateway to their brand.
The digital era has put greater demands on everything from politicians to household brands, and Wimbledon has been no different. The difference being, while many recoil in the face of technological advances, The All England Club has embraced it wholeheartedly. This year alone, the wimbledon.com website is expected to be updated over 100,000 times each day (requiring enormous amounts of hosted, scalable cloud capacity), making it the destination for a global community of millions of die-hard fans.
New to the 2016 Championships this year, IBM will be demonstrating a Cognitive Command Centre. It will use IBM Watson and hybrid cloud technologies to ingest feeds across multiple social media channels and automatically understand, reason and learn the most relevant and emerging topics of conversation related to Wimbledon, as well as other major sporting events, providing those insights to the digital editorial team.
By identifying common topics of interest, IBM can help the All England Lawn Tennis Club identify opportunities to better serve relevant articles, posts and images to fans.
For example, the Cognitive Command Centre could identify emerging conversations about a Swiss soccer game at the same time as Roger Federer was playing. Using these insights, Wimbledon will be able to make rapid content decisions to engage and inform sports fans during a summer filled with several major sporting events.
Introducing cognitive solutions to Wimbledon promises to deliver tremendous benefits for the AELTC in terms of insights, learnings and, ultimately, fan engagement and will enable the AELTC to firmly cement digital as the gateway to the Wimbledon brand, whilst at the same time enriching the overall fan experience too.
Innovation and reinvention are the keys to maintaining prominence and relevance in the world today and this is no different, whether you're a country of 60+ million people, a household brand, or the world's most loved tennis tournament. As the public's expectations and needs change, so too must our ability to reinvent ourselves and meet these new challenges head on. Wimbledon's continued success in the face of changing times is something not just the AELTC, but Britain as a nation, should be proud of - roll on the 27th of June...Play!
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