IBM at Wimbledon with IBM Cloud

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I’m a developer in the Emerging Technology group at IBM and part of the team at Wimbledon. We’re working to provide the world’s oldest tennis tournament with innovative, cloud-based social media solutions using IBM Bluemix.

IBM has been the Official Information Technology Supplier and Consultant to the All England Club and The Championships, Wimbledon for 27 years. As part of this year’s competition, we’re providing a Cognitive Command Centre to help Wimbledon deliver rich, relevant, gripping content to fans in real-time.

The Cognitive Command Centre presented a challenge for us. We wanted to build on the successes of last year’s Social Command Centre and create a system that could analyse huge quantities of information in real-time and pull out trends and useful information. However, this year we also wanted a system that could adapt the rules it uses as more information becomes available.

IBM Bluemix, which is an open-source, developer-friendly cloud platform which uses IBM’s Watson APIs, gave us the tools we needed to address these challenges.

Real-time analysis across multiple social media channels

We built the Cognitive Command Centre to perform analysis across multiple social media channels in real-time. This lets Wimbledon understand the broader social landscape. Cognitive solutions enable Wimbledon to look at not just the conversations going on around The Championships, but also the talk around tennis more generally and around other sporting events (such as The British Grand Prix and the Euro 2016 Final) which are taking place at the same time.

This allows Wimbledon to make rapid content decisions to engage fans via social and digital channels. It gives millions of fans a digital link to The Championships no matter where they are in the world.

As well as boosting engagement for existing fans, the Cognitive Command Centre also provides Wimbledon’s Media Team with the tools they need to target other sports fans. For instance, they could identify emerging conversations around a Swiss football game and link that to news stories about Roger Federer. The Cognitive Command Centre provides the information needed to make editorial decisions about where to place content for maximum engagement.

To accomplish all this, we used cognitive solutions to deliver the Cognitive Command Centre. This means that it learns, reasons and understands, much like a person does. We started by taking a set of sample set of social media messages and used them to train Watson APIs. This was done with classifications from last year, but the Cognitive Command Centre can also re-classify along the way as it is given more information.

Although the Cognitive Command Centre “learns” in a similar way to humans, we designed it to be a complementary tool for Wimbledon’s social media team. Because it can sample millions of messages of real-time, it lets the team see which topics of conversation are emerging, which have the potential to perform best and which content is being engaged with. It does this all as it happens, so the team can be proactive as well as reactive.

Try Bluemix and Watson APIs – it’s free for 30 days

IBM Bluemix made all this possible. It allowed us, as developers, to respond easily and flexibly to our customers’ needs. It meant we could deploy quickly without set-up and gave easy access to the Watson APIs which are unique to the platform. At Wimbledon we used the Watson Natural Language Classifier, Bluemix Alchemy Topic Analysis and Bluemix Alchemy Sentiment. However, these are just three of 140 APIs available on Bluemix today. The Cognitive Command Centre is also hosted on IBM SoftLayer which allows rapid scalability and means we can respond flexibly to changing demand.

It’s easy for developers to get started on Bluemix and access the Watson APIs. Try it free for 30 days and see what you can build.

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