Sports Innovation

Achieving Competitive Advantage in the Sports Industry

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Sports clubs and organisations command loyalty and drive passion like no other industry. They create communities, divide families and generate debate thousands of miles away from the pitch with fans from all over the world.

There are few moments in a sports fan’s life that are as euphoric as seeing their favourite team or hero win big – just ask Leicester City football fans, whose 2016 celebration of a crucial last-minute winner was reported as causing “an earthquake” measuring 0.3 on the Richter scale.

Digital technology offers the potential for sports organisations to enhance their engagement with both new and existing fans, and to monetise growing international audiences. However, technology also brings the threat of disruption. Many traditional revenue streams are under threat as new rights and sponsorship models emerge that compel sports organisations to find alternative sources of income. In the battle for consumer attention, organisations risk losing mindshare to rivals.

As the sports industry goes through a period of unprecedented change, the ability to recognise this market disruption and respond effectively is more critical than ever.

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

We have looked at the forces disrupting the sports industry and how organisations must transform and adapt. Below are the five strategic tenets:

  1. Understand market disruption. As fans change the way they behave, disruption is becoming the norm rather than the exception across the sports industry.
  2. Learn from media and entertainment businesses, giving fans relevant, timely, personalised content and building communities where they can share their passion.
  3. Deliver unparalleled digital fan experiences at the right time, through the right channels, to inspire lifelong fan loyalty that drives higher direct and indirect revenues.
  4. Adopt the right fan engagement technologies that harness data to enhance the fan digital journeys on site and off delivering new insight, including immersive video technologies and AI-powered personalisation.
  5. Secure your own enterprise capabilities by bringing in new experts and empowering them with open, flexible architectures and using agile development practices that remove barriers to cost-effective innovation.

As the sports industry enters an era of rapid change in which the end state is still unknown, these five tenets will help set sports organisations up for success. The key is to create an organisation that can understand and react to emerging challenges with speed and flexibility. This will depend on deciding which skills you wish to develop and maintain in-house, and which you can secure from partners.

With visionary leadership that fosters innovation, sports organisations can achieve the success behind the scenes that supports victory on the field. Learn more by reading the full Sports Paper.

Sports Transformation and Digital Strategy, IBM iX

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