Achieving Competitive Advantage in the Sports Industry

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IBM is proud to be actively engaged in the sports industry empowering major events from Wimbledon, US Open (tennis) to US Masters (golf). Furthermore, we are currently helping the semi-professional English football club Leatherhead FC to raise their game with help from AI. But this is only a few examples combining sports and technology, among many, as we at IBM are part of.

In our comprehensive and diverse work within the industry, we see that the sports industry is facing disruption from every angle. Therefore, we have recently published the white paper “Change to win: achieving competitive advantage in the sports industry“. In the report, we address how sports organizations must transform how they engage with fans, sponsors and rights buyers to grow fan bases and revenues. It is also now truer than ever that success off the pitch leads to success on it.

Below you can read the executive summary of the white paper. And if it awakens your curiosity, you can download and read the full paper by clicking on this link:  Sports business white paper

Executive Summary – Sports Industry white paper:

Nothing brings people together like sports. Many fans fall in love with their team at an early age, developing a passion that endures over a lifetime. And there are few moments in people’s lives that are as euphoric as seeing their favorite team or hero win big—just ask Leicester City football fans, whose 2016 celebration of a crucial last‐minute winner caused an earthquake measuring 0.3 on the Richter scale.1 Sport has the power to create loyalty that can be passed down from generation to generation, uniting people around a brand. It inspires people to participate, follow and unite into communities of fans.

Digital technology offers the potential for sports organizations to enhance their engagement with both new and existing fans, and to monetize growing international audiences. However, technology increasingly brings the potential for disruption. Many traditional revenue streams are under threat as new rights and sponsorship models emerge that compel sports organizations to find alternative sources of income. In the battle for consumer attention, sports organizations are facing fierce competition for fan loyalty.

As the sports industry goes through a period of unprecedented change, the ability to recognize this market disruption and respond effectively is more critical than ever. To succeed, sports businesses must defend and grow their fanbases, and build sustainable business models that ensure ongoing profitability.

Based on research, points‐of‐view from subject matter experts, and interviews with stakeholders in leading sports businesses, IBM has developed five strategic tenets for sports organizations: understand market disruption, learn from media and entertainment businesses, deliver unparalleled digital fan experiences, adopt the right fan engagement technologies, and secure enterprise capabilities.

We look first at the forces disrupting the sports industry and how organizations must adapt to remain frontrunners. From transforming their marketing strategies to delivering enthralling digital fan experiences, we show how organizations can learn new best practices from peers in other industries. We then explore innovative technologies for fan engagement, showing where organizations can prioritize investments to yield maximum value. Finally, we consider how sports organizations can develop the enterprise capabilities required to bring technology‐driven initiatives to life.

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Learn more about your sports business’ possibilities with tech at Furthermore, please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions at

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