IBM Brings Big Data Analytics, Cloud to US Open Tennis

IBM continues its tradition of providing technology to drive the US Open tennis tournament, this year bringing its big data analytics and cloud computing prowess to the fore as well as adding a new iPad app.

IBM and the United States Tennis Association have teamed up to deliver new technologies for tennis fans watching the 2012 US Open tennis tournament.

During the two-week event, IBM will apply its predictive analytics, cloud computing and mobile technology expertise to connect tennis fans to what is happening on the courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY. IBM also has enhanced the digital capabilities of the Website to give users front-row access to the action on the court.

IBM has been involved with the US Open tennis tournament for 22 years and this year has created a unique digital environment-including a new iPad app-that provides US Open spectators, athletes and media uninterrupted access to data, facts, stats and content via their tablets, smartphones, PCs and other devices. This enhanced, interactive fan experience uses new technologies that thousands of businesses worldwide are embracing to up their game by uncovering insights from big data, IBM said in a press release.

New for this year's tournament is the iPad app that serves streams of match data, access to live video, highlights and in-depth statistical information. Enhanced social media features enable fans to communicate with other fans around the world. The app also delivers an insider's view of who is gaining the edge on the court and most likely to win-well before the final score tells the story. It complements iPhone and Android apps that mobile fans can access to connect to US Open action in real-time from around the world.

"We continue to look for new ways to innovate and strengthen our leadership position in the sports industry, and one of the ways we will do this is by delivering content and information about the US Open to fans in the way that they want to consume it, no matter where they are," said Phil Green, senior director of Advanced Media at USTA, in a statement. "Working with IBM is a winning partnership because it allows us to create a unique digital environment that delivers stats, video and information to our fans whenever they want it on all devices."

For instance, off the court, IBM's analysis of the US Open action will extend to the social media arena by determining the Twitterverse's favorite male and female players, Big Blue said. IBM is applying advanced analytics software to millions of public tweets generated throughout the tournament to assess which players are the social fans' favorites. The IBM Social Sentiment Index will analyze buzz around the US Open, providing a better understanding of fan sentiment. The analysis will also illustrate how analytics technology can identify important and otherwise non-obvious trends to help businesses make better decisions about how to connect with customers, IBM said.

On site at the Tennis Center, IBM has built the IBM Game Changer Interactive Wall, which extends many of the and mobile app features, providing greater insight into the US Open, both on- and off-court using the power of analytics. Fans can interact with the wall to access live scores, match analysis and data visualizations from the IBM Social Sentiment Index analysis, as well as information about local weather and its effect on player nutrition and hydration, and more.

"Big data is impacting so many aspects of sporting events, that it's no longer a stretch to say that it is changing the way fans watch and enjoy sports," said Rick Singer, vice president of Sports Sponsorship Marketing for IBM, in a statement. "Whether on the court or in the board room, big data is being leveraged to achieve similar goals, such as keeping operations up and running seamlessly, having accurate data readily available for quick decision making, and improving productivity."

IBM notes that delivering insights into what is happening on the courts at the US Open requires an ability to capture and analyze each serve, volley and point. The same kind of analytics technologies that IBM is using to deliver insights to tennis fans, players, coaches, media and sports event organizers are being used to monitor babies in prenatal wards, help police departments prevent crime and enable financial services firms to improve customer service, IBM said.

Meanwhile, Big Blue officials said one of the most insightful features of is IBM's SlamTracker. Based on predictive analytics technology, the tracker leverages historical and real-time match data to deliver a better understanding of what's going on during a match. SlamTracker's 'Momentum' feature maps player momentum throughout a match in real-time, visualizing key turning points such as aces and winning shots, allowing fans to interact with the data to learn more about why a player is winning. In addition, SlamTracker's 'Keys to the Match' feature analyzes seven years of historical Grand Slam data to determine the top three things a player must do to perform well in a specific match.

Each year during the two-week tournament, IBM helps the USTA expand its infrastructure to meet these demands and then scale back to support regular operations following the tournament. IBM says this elasticity is made possible by the IBM SmartCloud, which enables the rapid creation and dynamic allocation of resources while offering transparent and real-time access by a multitude of devices, such as smartphones, tablets and televisions. This cloud environment-powered by IBM servers and storage in three geographically dispersed locations virtualized as one-ensures continuous availability and scalability required to support such a high-profile event, IBM said.