From AI to analytics … how Wimbledon extracts the maximum value from data

By | 2 minute read | July 6, 2018

It’s that time of year again.  The grass is mown.  The strawberries have been picked.  The AELTC is once again welcoming the world to SW19.

Behind the scenes, we too have been preparing.  Over 4 million match statistics will be collected as data across 18 courts during the 13 days of The Championships.  At close of play in 2017, the total number of data points collected since 1990 – when our partnership with Wimbledon started – ran to 58,252,751.  We recruit 48 high quality tennis players to capture the data courtside quickly and accurately – they have targets of being 100% accurate sub-second.

What do we do with that data?  IBM SlamTracker analyses 7 years of grand slam data with real-time data feeds to give fans an unprecedented level of analytical insight and engagement as the match unfolds, especially on a fan’s mobile device.  In 2018, the experience has been re-imagined and optimised; the ‘momentum’ feature showing which player in the match has the momentum – and how that shifts between opponents over the course of the match.

And it’s not only match data we’re working with.  Last year IBM launched an AI highlights solution at The Championships, helping Wimbledon to engage with fans inside and outside SW19.  IBM Watson uses crowd noise and visual recognition to help the media team at Wimbledon create the best, most engaging highlights based on crowd sentiment.

It is now possible to turn these highlights around in just five minutes, helping Wimbledon to rise above the noise in the media and provide engaging content to fans even more quickly.  This year that solution has been enhanced so that it recognises player emotion, often a good indicator of the highs and lows of the match as it unfolds.

Huge sets of data are also used by Fred, Wimbledon’s AI assistant, who was introduced at The Championships in 2017, providing a personalised and immersive on-site experience.  A new addition for 2018 is the incorporation of a Wimbledon bot in Facebook Messenger as a social assistant for those off-site and in the grounds.

That ability to get insight from accurate data – historical, real-time, structured, unstructured – and to act on it, is as applicable to business today as it is for Wimbledon.  A combination of traditional analytics and cognitive solutions can allow organisations to get closer to their customer, make more effective decisions and differentiate from the competition.

The eyes of the world are on Wimbledon this week.  My eyes will be on the data.

Learn more about the IBM Cloud Solutions that power Wimbledon