THE BLOG

Cloud and Data Analytics in Sport is the Difference Between Winning and Losing

04/08/2014 14:39 BST | Updated 30/09/2014 10:59 BST

Sporting events - national or global - are getting more media attention than ever before. This year's Fifa World Cup 2014 achieved 280 million Facebook interactions from 88 million people around the world, with the Argentina-Germany Final alone generating 32.1 million tweets in just 120 minutes - that's 4458 tweets per second! Meanwhile, this year's Wimbledon Championships achieved a record 63 million Wimbledon.com website visits and 473 million page views despite competing for fan time with the World Cup.

Fans want to get as close as they can to the sports they enjoy and innovation in cloud and analytics technology is helping create a better fan experience than ever before. Today, sports fans can access real-time information on the sport of their choice on their smartphones, tablets and other devices. They can create personalised feeds with the latest live scores, stats, live videos and match analysis, giving that extra layer of analysis to enhance the fan experience and engagement - and importantly they can get it whenever and where ever they want.

An inclusive fan experience

During this year's Wimbledon Championships, the enhanced fan experience was enabled by advanced cloud technology, which powers the Wimbledon.com website, allowing it to withstand vast web and multi-device mobile traffic at peak times. This technology allows the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) to be completely transformed in days from a small tennis club in SW19 to a massive, data hungry environment that requires access to accurate and dynamic content to meet the demands of millions of tennis fans eager to get involved in one the biggest annual sporting event in the UK.

But tennis fans aren't the only ones benefiting from an enhanced sports experience. Other organisations can, and already are, applying the latest technology innovations to sporting events. For example, Amsterdam Arena is using technology to create an interactive "in-stadium" experience for visitors, enabling them to stream high quality, real-time video content on mobile devices at events. The mobile app allows fans to participate in activities such as watching a live football game from multiple angles, voting for 'Man of the Match,' monitoring the scores of concurrent matches, and ordering food and beverages.

However, the technology isn't just bringing fans closer to the sport, it's also bringing players closer than ever before to their personal performance during matches. Data analytics has advanced to such an extent that players can now analyse every minute movement they make to improve their performance, from the speed of their serve, or the angle at which they kick a ball.

Knowledge is power in player performance

As the old saying goes, "hard work beats talent, but only when talent doesn't work hard". It used to be the case that you could win by either being naturally gifted, or by working harder than the rest. But today, talent identification programmes are so strong, and training regimes so finely tuned, that, at the very top level, everyone is talented and everyone works hard.

So to find that extra edge in performance, players need to look elsewhere - data analytics can tell players and coaches where that extra edge might be, and help them grab it before their opponent.

For example, at Wimbledon this year, SlamTracker, a system using a multi-tenant private cloud spanning three active datacentres, provided a "second screen" experience for fans on Wimbledon.com. These real-time statistics, which can be accessed by both fans and players, not only puts the fans in the shoes of the coach to help them become a part of the action, but it can also help players in any particular head-to-head match understand the three key things they need to focus on in order to increase their chances of winning.

Rugby coaches are using predictive analytics technology to assess the likelihood of injury to players to help them better deliver personalised training and nutrition programmes for players identified as at risk. One such club is the Waratahs who are using predictive analytics to reduce Player Injury and Optimises Team Performance. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is using predictive analytics to give viewers access to insights that will heighten their understanding of what to watch for in each game. They want to take fan engagement and use it to increase participation in the game from grass roots up.

Real world technology

In sports like tennis, rugby and football, "cloud" and "big data" are so much more than mere business jargon. Here, they could be the difference between winning and losing, strength in performance and injury, a great and poor fan experience.

Yet, these advances in technology aren't just limited to the sports industry. Cloud and data analytics can now offer a seamless customer experience, scalable computing power, powerful insight and enhanced decision-making across various industries - everything from improving transport networks in our busiest cities, to improving the quality of paediatric care by collecting and sharing knowledge to treat children dying of preventable illnesses.

From healthcare and energy conservation, to retailing and public safety - any business, in any industry, in any corner of the world will see incremental benefits to their business by using advanced cloud and data analytics technology.