What businesses can learn from sports about digital transformations

Just like in sport, businesses must ensure their digital strategy focuses on areas that provide the best RoI

What businesses can learn from sports about digital transformations
What businesses can learn from sports about digital transformations
What businesses can learn from sports about digital transformations
What businesses can learn from sports about digital transformations

By Srini CR

When it comes to how we work and play, technology is turbocharging our lives. In no sector is it more apparent than in sports, where work and play combine to create the perfect digital storm. In North America—home to the world’s biggest domestic sports market—sports revenue is set to leap by 47% in just 10 years, by 2021. That equates to $25 billion, in one market alone. And digital technologies provide the crucial pivot.

The proliferation of the internet and connected devices has created a disruptive landscape. For leaders in sporting industry, this has meant adapting quickly to ensure they are keeping pace with new trends—and keeping fans’ eyes on the ball. The opportunity for growth is immense and technology is powering it. But this doesn’t just have to be a success story for sport—other industries should take note, too.

We recently commissioned an industry report called ‘Show Me the Money!’ with experts from HSBC, Formula 1, European Tour and DAZN sharing insights around commercial opportunities that digital platforms offer for sports. Apart from providing a roadmap for the digital transformation of sports, it gives other industry leaders a clear view on how these organisations got it so right.

So, how exactly is the sports industry getting the top score? And what key lessons can other industries take away in order to step-up their digital transformation journeys?

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Attract new audiences, stay relevant: Every business needs to foster existing customer base and attract new customers in order to grow, bring in new revenue streams and remain relevant. In the sports industry, it has been achieved through introduction of new platforms and formats to engage fans, which make sports more accessible for new audiences and keep existing fans loyal. It’s a similar story for retail businesses seeking to make more meaningful connections with consumers. Customers must be enticed to spend time with your brand through a multitude of avenues. The online experience is key to this. In the case of a retailer, mobile apps must interact with the in-store experience to offer highest levels of customer service and personalisation. Doing so ensures loyal customers return, and new customers understand the value in engaging with your brand.

Get personal and connect with your customers: Our report highlighted the sports industry’s success at connecting with customers on an emotional level, leveraging digital platforms, to build brand loyalty. Similar tactics can be implemented for other industries. Take financial services—being ‘human’, accessible, quick to address and anticipate customers’ needs is essential. Utilising AI and predictive analytics can ensure customer satisfaction and stickiness.

Meeting customer expectations: In sport, a live event is a main draw for fans, whether they are in-person at the stadium or watching on TV. As the digital experience improves for fans, many sports are looking at ways to enrich the live experience at venues to match up. We’re seeing innovative applications of AR and data analytics to give fans real-time insights on players and athletes. Similarly, AR can be leveraged, for example, in heavy industry like manufacturing for new insights and increased efficiencies.

Services, and experiences for the digital world: As people’s daily lives are optimised with digital technology, their expectations in terms customer service and experience rise—whether in sport, retail, banking, or other sectors. Scalability, flexibility and agility are the facets for data-driven businesses that want to stay ahead of the curve. Professional services businesses, for example, often have a lot of bright minds, but may lack clarity/resources to identify which technologies are best to invest in. Businesses must consider the opportunities afforded to them by digital transformation to diversify, from a customer-centric point of view. Arguably, the professional services sector hasn’t been the fastest to adopt new technologies, but these organisations are building consumer-led functionality within their products, which until recent decades had largely been paper-based.

Choose your platforms wisely: There are more ways for fans to watch sports and engage with sporting personalities than ever before—and the same goes for businesses and their customers. But in the rush to make the most of the digital platforms available, there’s a risk the point may be missed. For businesses, it is imperative they focus on the platforms that can reflect and support their organisation the best. Just like in sport, businesses must ensure their digital strategy focuses on the areas that provide the best RoI. For example, what are their priority geographies?

Which areas are they seeking to grow in? How can they better tighten up processes and procedures? Whether you are selling football tickets or insurance, being bold but strategic with your digital transformation goals is the first step to ensure that your customers will see you as a front runner, stepping up your game.

The author is chief digital officer, Tata Communications

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