Artificial Intelligence

What can retailers learn from Wimbledon’s fan engagement?

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Like retailers, Wimbledon are in an industry going through unprecedented change where the ability to recognise – and address – market disruption is more critical than ever. Wimbledon are not only a sports tournament, they see themselves as a data-driven media business where being first to share insights and high video quality content is a key differentiator. Wimbledon are constantly innovating and using technology to help them succeed in their pursuit of greatness, whilst growing their fan base through the delivery of more personalised and engaging experiences.

So what can retailers learn from Wimbledon on how they are using the innovative technology to ensure they remain at the top of their game.

Data to deliver insight

With more consumers online and using multiple devices than ever before there is an abundance of data out there. The challenge however is ensuring the right data is captured, processed at the right speed and the correct insight derived to drive the appropriate action. Increasing the data driven insights will not only create a better customer experience but will also ensure retailers can make the right decisions on a range of topics such as stock inventory, product design and staffing. Of course GDPR is always a consideration.

At Wimbledon, data is abundant with over 4.5 million scoring and statistical data points in addition to weather information and crowd reactions. However, as with retail the biggest challenge is making this data usable and useful. With the help of IBM, Wimbledon are able to collect a mass of data and unlock data driven insights.

The focus is clear – ensuring the right people can access the right information at the right time helping them make the right decision. Whether it’s the worlds media with a global audience of 1 billion people or the players and their coaches who require the data within 20 minutes to analyse their performance, Wimbledon and IBM can be trusted to collect data with 100% accuracy and deliver insights.

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Digital Design for Engagement

Retaining existing customers while at the same time attracting new ones is vital within Retail. However, with customers’ expectations continually changing it becomes increasingly challenging for retailers to truly understand their consumer demands and needs. Therefore, in order to meet this demand, retailers are opting for a more personalised approach to their customer base and more importantly across multiple channels, even those who are not in the store!

Just like retailers know not all customers will engage with a store, Wimbledon understand that not all fans can attend The Championships. However, Wimbledon are determined to ensure their fans can witness every shot, point and reaction. Using multiple touch points, data and award-winning design from IBM iX, Wimbledon are able to serve over 50 million digital visitors across the globe during The Championships.

Each individual fan can engage with The Championships through multiple channels be it via phone apps,, broadcast TV or live at SW19.  The personalised and authentic content provided to fans means they can create and share their own Wimbledon story. This personalisation drives loyalty and engagement within the existing Wimbledon fan base while at the same time ensuring relevant content is positioned to attract new ones.

Cloud provides flexibility and scalability

For retailers the ability to gain true agility and adapt to meet fast changing business demands is challenging. With volatile peaks and troughs in transactions due to promotional events, weather and trends there is a requirement in retail to be able to scale on demand. In addition, retailers are looking to provide a seamless uninterrupted customer experience across the globe.

Here at Wimbledon, IBM uses a hybrid cloud model  to ensure scale and flexibility to meet the demands when and where they occur. For fifty weeks of the year Wimbledon is a private member’s tennis club, and then for two weeks it transforms to deliver one of the biggest tournaments in the sporting calendar, broadcasting to over 1 billion fans in virtually every country in the world. This huge peak in demand results in the IBM Cloud scaling up 55,000% during The Championships. The IBM Cloud is the digital foundation, allowing us to provide real time insights, power apps that help enhance the fans experience and create a culture of innovation.

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Secure to the core

Today retailers must ensure they are available to trade 24/7 and 365 days a year. Any form of cyber-attack would considerably damage this ability in addition to being extremely damaging to brand reputation. The digital world that retailers now find themselves in also means a high volume of data such as consumer, suppliers and third parties is now being collected and stored, all of which must be protected.

Brand reputation is just as important for Wimbledon as it is in retail. With around 200 million security incidents managed across The Championships in 2018, Wimbledon take cyber security seriously. IBM uses QRadar to identify, potential attacks on the digital properties from all of the infrastructure spread around the globe.  It acts as a triage for our security team. Watson for Cyber security constantly scours the internet and dark web to provide a clear picture of threats and remedial actions to the IBM security team allowing them to be 60x faster.

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In summary, from data insights to enhanced consumer experience and from scalability to cyber security, there is potential for retailers to benefit from many of the best practices from Wimbledon. What is important is that an integrated approach is taken to ensure retailers recognise market disruption early, take advantage of new revenue streams and provide a great overall customer experience.

Who would had thought retail could take so much from a tennis tournament in SW19.

See how IBM and Wimbledon put smart to work and explore how other businesses can benefit from cloud and AI technologies.

Client Executive, Retail

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