IBM Consulting solutions help the USTA bring a world-class digital experience at the US Open.
Throughout the year, IBM Consulting™ collaborates with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to plan and build digital experiences that engage the tournament’s 10 million yearly viewers around the world through the US Open app and usopen.org. IBM also provides the tournament with cybersecurity and digital platform support. Together, these solutions help the USTA maintain a world-class digital experience, deliver new features to fans and push the boundaries of innovation.
The USTA relies on IBM hybrid cloud technology to accommodate the volume, variety, complexity and mission-critical nature of the data. The US Open uses a combination of on-premises, private and public clouds to develop containerized Kubernetes applications on Red Hat® OpenShift®. This allows the teams to write code once, then run it on any cloud — exponentially increasing the rate of innovation for the IBM Consulting team. This architecture also offers consistent management experiences across environments, enables development teams to work remotely and streamlines the creation and delivery of new fan experiences.
A robust platform for AI-driven data analysis
The IBM Power Index is a foundational component of the US Open’s fan engagement experiences, offering a unique and dynamic measure of player momentum. The algorithm mines and analyzes more than 7 million player data points generated throughout the tournament, such as scores, surface performance, past tournament progression, forecasted game win rate and 18 other statistics. The system combines this with thematic semantic analysis of unstructured data, such as punditry from more than 100 million news articles. The resulting data is stored on IBM Db2® on Cloud, a fully managed SQL cloud database with high availability and flexible scaling. Additional derived data about tennis players are placed within IBM Cloudant for flexible and efficient retrieval, delivering an enhanced fan experience.
IBM Watson® Discovery analyzes the unstructured data and derives sentiment of media activity about each player along conceptual dimensions. A containerized app running on Red Hat OpenShift queries Watson Discovery to retrieve enriched text so that further natural language processing (NLP) techniques can be applied to the text. A series of text sentiment and volume trend forecasting from Watson Core are combined with textual spike predictions (produced from a machine learning model built using IBM Watson Studio and Auto AI) to assess future crowd opinions about a player. This analysis produces a variety of insights, including Ones to Watch and Upset Alerts. Next, a match perspective is created by combining two singles players’ IBM Power Index and head-to-head statistics to produce Likelihood to Win and Win Factors.
Realizing the benefits of hybrid cloud workloads
IBM Cloud Code Engine enables the team’s developers to run a broad variety of workloads in a serverless environment by leveraging containers, jobs and RESTful applications. This architecture allows a high level of productivity and eliminates the need to manage IT infrastructure. Further, this type of architecture provides significant savings in capital and operational expenditures.
These benefits are not limited to the US Open collaboration. A recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that “the value derived from a full hybrid, multicloud platform technology and operating model at scale is 2.5 times the value derived from a single-platform, single-cloud vendor approach.”
Facilitating remote collaboration and rapid iteration
In 2020, upon learning that the US Open would be held without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic and limited staff onsite, the USTA and IBM teams pivoted from their usual on-site collaboration to an entirely remote one.
Shannon Miller of the IBM iX team noted how the hybrid cloud platform enabled fast, collaborative development of digital enhancements even when everyone was remote: “It’s important for us in iX to be able to pivot on a dime. On this platform, we can make changes really fast.”
The platform set the stage for ongoing improvement. This year, the software engineering team refactored the Match Insights code, making it more robust, reusable and extensible. The team continues to modernize the codebase, making it quicker to create, test and deploy containers on any cloud.
The flexible nature of IBM’s hybrid cloud environment allows the team to innovate quickly and develop new features regularly. The open nature of this environment also allows the USTA to seamlessly integrate functionality from third-party providers, such as US Open Fantasy Tennis. Those are just some of the ways that IBM’s hybrid cloud approach can deliver 2.5x the value of a public cloud-only approach for leading businesses across all industries.