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Cloud innovation enhances fan experience

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Nicco is working with IBM Garage and IBM Cloud to create a concession ordering app and improving the stadium customer experience.Hate standing in queues? Me too. In fact, I’ll avoid them even if there’s no alternative. This is how Nicco was born. I was at a sports bar, and the queue for drinks was so long that I refused to get in line. Over three hours, I had one drink and one snack and walked away feeling like my friends and I would have enjoyed ourselves more at home.

Consider this:

This got me thinking … How much does a seamless in-venue experience impact customer loyalty, and by extension, income?

Two core functions of modern venue experiences

1. Everyone enjoys live entertainment. No one enjoys queues.

We needed a solution designed to reduce queues and wait times — in bars, restaurants, stadiums or events — by allowing users to order and pay from their seats. If users can spend more time enjoying the action, they’ll be more likely to return. Select, order, collect. Simple.

2. Businesses are going in blind. Which products are being consumed? Where, and by whom?

We needed to create a customer engagement solution that would help businesses better understand buyer behaviour and create personalised customer experiences. We knew that a mobile app would be the perfect user interface to achieve both objectives and gain access to previously unseen data.

The story of Nicco: From iteration(s) to reality

Having no technical employees, we saw value in the IBM Garage when we gained access to a team of experienced architects, developers and designers that were ready to bring our idea to life. And so our journey began …

1. The importance of framing an idea.

During an Initial Framing Session, we looked at different business themes and screened benchmarks, determining that we needed to narrow our focus to stadium experience. While our dream was bigger, success means perfecting one use case before expanding to others, balancing the need for data collection capabilities with user experience.

2. Design thinking: Solving the problem through ideation.

During a two-day IBM Enterprise Design Thinking Workshop, we worked with the IBM Garage team to look at stadium experiences from the customer’s perspective. What would add the most value to an attendee’s experience? We did everything from persona creation and scenario mapping to wireframing. Here’s a full list of what goes into the process.

We agreed that the food and beverage purchasing process could be modernised and expedited with concepts such as mobile ordering and in-seat delivery. We talked through details such as building payment systems; creating iPhone, Android and vendor apps; and designing an analytics dashboard.

3. Build, test, iterate.

After a brief cloud innovation architecture workshop, we decided to focus on building an MVP (minimum viable product) for iOS users. Initially, we built a clickable wireframe prototype, which was helpful during discussions with investors.

We then completed the first Nicco MVP, an iOS app that allows a user to choose a merchant located within the stadium, view its menu, order, pay and receive a notification when the order is ready for pickup.

As of October 2019, we have completed three pilots at Lottoland Stadium, primarily to test functionality and interest. Through constant iteration, we determined the need for integration with a point of sale (POS) management system and an administration dashboard. Somewhat unexpectedly, the app also enhanced safety due to fewer people in queues blocking aisles and doors.

4. Building our stack.

We built our production solution on IBM Cloud, which gave us flexibility, openness, reliability, scale and speed. We leveraged technology from the IBM Cloud Catalog, including IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service for the application microservices, IBM Cloud App ID for user authentication, IBM API Connect for API management, IBM Cloud Object Storage for image storage, IBM Cloud Monitoring and IBM Cloud Log Analysis for application health and performance monitoring, and MongoDB for application data management.

What’s next for Nicco?

Over time, we plan to use Nicco’s detailed transaction data and IBM Watson to interpret customer profile data with AI. We will continue to iterate our application with IBM Garage based on user feedback, architectural inquiry, venue demand and new research that becomes available.

The IBM Garage team is our Nicco team. They’re engaged and passionate and provide us with a perspective that has been invaluable during this build. Frankly, we could have hired an offshore team to do this at a lower cost, but if we did that, we wouldn’t have had the confidence to tell large enterprises, stadiums and investors that the technology in our solution works. Whether you’re a startup or large enterprise, tapping into IBM Garage expertise and methodologies is a competitive advantage.

We’ll be back with updates soon. For now, I’ve got to run – Nicco just alerted me that my order is ready.

To learn about Nicco and our solution, check out this video. Want to experience the IBM Garage for yourself? Schedule a complimentary visit to the IBM Garage to get started.

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