The upcoming Football World Cup in Brazil is a fantastic example of how our consumption of both data and content is changing. Major sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics are quickly becoming, first and foremost, digital events. For instance, a staggering 1.03m users watched last year's Wimbledon final from their tablets and the BBC Sport site reported that 64 percent of all requests came from mobile devices during that match.
This trend seems sure to continue with the 2014 World Cup, with viewing figures expected to be very different from that of any other year due to the proliferation of mobile devices. With matches in Brazil timed to coincide with the end of the working day, commuters' journeys home and then late on into the night, the reliance on other connected devices to follow matches seems certain to increase. In fact, it is estimated that 63% will watch via computers, 23% from their smartphones, and 25% from tablets .
While this is fantastic news for football fans, the rise in consuming media through portable devices does raise a challenge for those tasked with ensuring a high level of network performance. IT teams will be all too familiar with the impact that large numbers of employees streaming video can have on the business, with 42% of IT professionals stating that popular events such as the Olympics or World Cup negatively impact their network's performance .
With millions of eyes watching every kick, every tackle, every goal and every minute of play and re-play, the World Cup looks set to become the ultimate network trial, reflecting the challenge businesses face. In seeking to deploy new and evolving technologies like cloud, Big Data, Machine-to-Machine communications, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and seamless mobility they must avoid scoring an "own goal". Increasing pressure on networks which, all too often, are still reliant on outdated technology, is proving a significant road-block to success
Today's networks are fundamentally the same as those built 20 years ago, which were designed for a relatively small number of desktop PCs. The huge number of 'connected things' - from tablets and smartphones to wearable technology and self-driving cars - that make up today's world, demand a different approach. The network we have today was simply not designed for this brave new world. A smarter, more flexible approach will be needed as the data volumes associated with events such as the World Cup increasingly become the norm for everyday business.
To support this kind of demand sporting arenas and organisers are becoming leading examples of best practice in the development of IT infrastructures that are super-scalable but totally bullet-proof. Organisations still reliant on outdated technology on the other hand may find the World Cup highlights a need for greater investment in scalable and flexible network infrastructures.
By using the World Cup as an opportunity to learn about the strength of the networks, businesses can use the next few weeks as a valuable opportunity and help make sure that, for future World Cups, the only cause of anxiety will be the penalty shoot-outs.