Fan appreciation

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2005-03-01 Print this article Print

Robert Kraft, chairman of Kraft Group, first got involved with the team as a fan, purchasing season tickets beginning in 1970. Observing for years the teams sometimes-erratic on-field performance and sitting on a hard, metal bleacher seat in the low-budget Foxboro Stadium, Kraft developed an ambition to acquire the stadium and the team and to do things right.
He achieved those goals in subsequent decades, building a championship team and the state-of-the-art Gillette Stadium, which opened in 2002.

Because Kraft started his relationship with the team when he was a fan, the concerns of fans are never far from his mind or his sons, who run Kraft Groups companies. "Everything you see about their [the Krafts] regard for the fan is real," said Curley.

One result is a home-developed data mining system designed to track customer purchases and identify marketing opportunities. The software is a highly customized implementation of Onyx Software Corp.s Marketing application and mines data from various systems.

To read more about technologys position on the Red Sox, click here. "The nature of the application is it is always in development. We are working with homegrown stuff but looking for the silver bullet," said Curley.

The biggest challenge is separating customers personal and corporate purchases. "Youll always have different elements in marketing to include or exclude," said Curley. Still, "I would guess that we are the leader in analyzing the information," she said. "I suspect that Seattle might have an edge because of Microsoft [Corp.], but I doubt they are ahead of us in the analysis."

"Tying into the back end was difficult," said the chief innovator for Kraft Group, Trent Adams, whose number is called for special projects. "There are lots of different databases, and online systems are constantly changing," said Adams. "Thats why we built it [ourselves]. Its more economically viable to be nimble and own the design. We like to own the intellectual property for whatever we do."

One new project is building a Chinese-language version of the Web site, and the Krafts anticipate spearheading pro footballs expansion into new worldwide markets.

"The Krafts are very cognizant of this sort of thing [technology and business], unlike a lot of the team owners, whose focus is just on the field, not on the ancillary components that make this a business—trying to convert potential dollars to actual dollars," said Adams.

Next Page: All quiet on the IT front.

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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