Artificial Intelligence

Using AI to improve the game-day experience for Manly Warringah Sea Eagles fans

By Jason Price, Vice President & General Manager – IBM Technology – Australia & New Zealand

If you’re a footy fan, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the feeling you get when your team finally scores– just when you’re queuing to buy a meat pie…

That’s why we’re backing a new mobile digital wallet solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer experience to be a winner with fans on game-day.

The co-creation of IBM and Nicco, the ‘Manly Money’ app allows fans of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles NRL club to securely make purchases from their seats at home games. This minimises the need for fans to queue for food and drinks, allowing them to spend more time enjoying the on-field action.

The solution will also eventually offer Sea Eagles fans customised offers from the club and local businesses, rewarding fans for their loyalty and ultimately saving them money.

But there’s more to Nicco’s innovation than initially meets the eye, according to the company’s CEO, Richelle Nicols. To find out more, I caught up with her ahead of the pilot of Manly Money at Brookvale Oval.  

“Our idea was never really about creating a digital wallet,” she explained. “It was about how we create genuine engagement between businesses and consumers. The idea of the digital wallet is that it’s something you can put into people hands that they’ll want to use.

“Our product streamlines and personalises engagement with every single member. From that the club will start to get granular, very detailed data – as opposed to it being siloed in different systems for food and drink, merchandising and membership.”

“The club will also be able to extend the use of the wallet to other businesses for a commission, essentially monetising one of their most important assets – their fans.”

Laying the foundations for an experience ecosystem

Working with a team of our technology and design experts and applying our user-focused IBM Garage methodology, Nicco was able to build out its idea into a fully-fledged solution.

Nicco’s solution is hosted on IBM Cloud and uses natural language processing capabilities in the IBM Watson Discovery platform to interpret customers’ personal data over time and share targeted offers.

The solution also benefits from being built using our IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service, which not only speeds up the time it takes to deploy apps but also allows them to be easily customised. This means Nicco can roll out the solution to any number of other organisations, white-labelled with those organisations’ own branding.

According to Richelle, this is something the company is already exploring with several other sporting clubs, as well as organisations in other industries.

“I was keen to trial our solution with a sporting club because they already have a tribe of consumers who will download and try new things,” she explained. “But our solution is agnostic to industry. Essentially, every single organisation wants to do the same things: they want to engage better, and they want to monetise their assets better. That’s fundamentally what we do.”

After receiving positive feedback from the recent pilot of the Manly Money app, Richelle says Nicco will make it more widely available to Sea Eagles fans later this year. In the meantime, I’m proud that IBM has been able to help make it happen.

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