With a storied history of supporting professional sports such as golf and tennis, IBM today announced the Sports and Entertainment Global Consortium, which was created to design, build and deliver the ultimate fan experience.
IBM also announced it new Sports, Entertainment and Fan Experience consulting practice led by Jim Rushton, who joins IBM after serving as chief revenue officer of the Miami Dolphins and Miami's Sun Life Stadium.
"Sports enterprises and venues need to look at ways to get to know their loyal fans as individuals, and convert that fan loyalty into new revenue streams—not just on game days but 365 days a year," Rushton said in a statement. Rushton's consulting practice will deploy more than 100 global specialists with experience in design, mobility, marketing and data analytics supported by a global network of 20 digital design studios. "It's an ongoing experience that starts when a fan purchases tickets, travels to the venue, attends an event; and it continues well after the event is over."
The new consortium brings together IBM's IT experience in such areas as construction and design, network infrastructure, wireless and telecommunications. Collectively, consortium members already are working with more than 250 of the world's top venues. The sports consortium offers clients an integrated capability spanning design, strategy, technology and data to drive growth and profit across all sports enterprise businesses.
Founding members of the consortium, include:
- Architecture and Design: HOK
- Construction and Design: AECOM, Whiting Turner
- Infrastructure Technology, Software & IPTV: Alcatel-Lucent, Anixter, CommScope, Corning, Juniper Networks, Ruckus Wireless, Schneider Electric, Smarter Risk, Tellabs, Ucopia, Zebra Technologies, YinzCam, Zhone
- Communications Solutions Providers: AT&T, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Level 3, Zayo
- Fan Experience Consulting, Mobile Applications & Data Management Integration: IBM
"This is one of those situations where IBM gained a great deal of experience by engaging in major sports events like the US Open and Wimbledon," Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told eWEEK. "Sort of an industrial-sized learn while you earn situation. This latest announcement leverages the company's experiences into a new services organization designed to help professional sports teams, leagues and venues take advantage of innovative new technological solutions, including immersive audience experiences and advanced analytics. Overall, this should be valuable for IBM's target customers and their respective audiences, and should also provide the company significant revenue opportunities."
According to global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, sports annually generate nearly $700 billion around the world, and the market is growing faster than the gross domestic product (GDP) in nearly every country. The modern venue setting demands a sophisticated technology and wireless environment.
"We look forward to working with IBM and our clients to integrate new and emerging technologies into the design of stadiums, ballparks and arenas to create a more memorable experience for fans," said Brad Schrock, a director of sports, recreation and entertainment design at sports venue design firm HOK, in a statement. "Fans will be able to use mobile devices to interact with the venue and the team, which will create extraordinary experiences."
Yet less than half of U.S. sports venues provide even basic connectivity on game days, IBM said. Fewer still are equipped to meet fan expectations for wireless services to mobile devices, e-commerce and entertainment options, and delivery of data and analysis of events and athletic performance.
As sports enterprises and venues look to digital capabilities to create deeper levels of engagement with fans and convert that engagement into new sources of revenue, they must be able to deliver high-bandwidth connectivity, with services and content increasingly customized to individual preferences.