IBM Brings Analytics, Cloud, Mobile and Social Computing to US Open Tennis

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-08-29

IBM Brings Analytics, Cloud, Mobile and Social Computing to US Open Tennis

IBM and United States Tennis Association announced they are using analytics, cloud computing, mobile and social technologies to bring the 2013 US Open to tennis fans.

IBM and the USTA have collaborated for more than 20 years on a technology partnership that enables fans—no matter where they are located—to follow and examine every serve, volley and point at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

The same predictive analytics, cloud, mobile and social technologies that IBM provides to clients in every industry worldwide will help the USTA offer an engaging and informative experience to millions of US Open followers and spectators throughout the two-week tournament.

The technology brings fans closer to the action on the courts while delivering real-time insights into match data that go beyond basic scores and stats. Whether they’re watching court side, on television, online or on the run, US Open fans can become their own virtual sports analyst and gain a greater appreciation for the game of tennis through an immersive, interactive digital experience powered by IBM software, services and systems.

The IBM-powered digital US Open environment provides fans, players, broadcasters and media with access to a range of big data insights streaming from the courts, including stats, facts, videos, live scoring, and historical and real-time analysis of tennis data served to tablets, smartphones, PCs and other devices.

“As the US Open continues to grow and reach tennis enthusiasts around the world, our fans are clamoring for access to more and more content, as well as deeper insights that allow them to join social conversations about the tournament,” Nicole Jeter West, director of digital strategy and partnership at the USTA, said in a statement. “Having a partner like IBM for over 20 years enables us to have great confidence in the technology infrastructure and to feel like we have the best resources in place to meet our fans' demands.”

New for the 2013 US Open is a redesigned IBM SlamTracker analytics dashboard that delivers real-time insights into match data and statistics that go beyond basic scoreboard watching and help fans understand how and why a player prevails in a particular match. SlamTracker's “Keys to the Match” feature is built on IBM predictive analytics software and analyzes more than 41 million data points from eight years of Grand Slam tennis data to identify three performance indicators that will affect the dynamics of a match for each player. SlamTracker's 'Momentum' feature illustrates break advantages during a match in real-time and visualizes key turning points, including aces and winning shots, allowing fans to interact with the data and learn why a player is winning or losing.

IBM Brings Analytics, Cloud, Mobile and Social Computing to US Open Tennis

The enhanced SlamTracker software also offers a new embedded social sentiment feed that enables fans to follow and contrast how the volume and tone of fan sentiment on Twitter correlates and shifts as player performance changes on the court.

Though the tournament only lasts two weeks, IBM and the USTA begin preparation for it long in advance. Indeed, for most of the year, the USTA’s digital infrastructure runs like a small business, but during the two-week US Open tournament, it rapidly transforms into a data- and performance-hungry environment that requires constant access to content ready to serve the unpredictable demands of millions of tennis fans. In essence, IBM brings in the cloud.

Previously, IBM manually monitored and adjusted computing workloads for the USTA. For 2013, IBM upgraded the infrastructure that supports with a combination of predictive analytics and cloud computing technologies to predict, monitor and continuously adjust the capacity and computing resources that support the US Open’s digital needs.

This cloud computing environment—powered by IBM POWER servers and cloud technologies located in three geographically dispersed data centers that are virtualized as one—provides continuous availability and scalability. Not only does the analytics and cloud integration help the USTA more efficiently accommodate and respond to unpredictable spikes in demand for content and data during the tournament, it also provide a more effective means to manage IT costs over the course of the year when the USTA does not require as much infrastructure support.

“Sports fans demand ubiquitous and uninterrupted real-time access to scores, stats and insights from big data, much like clients and C-suite execs in most industries,” said Rick Singer, vice president of Sports Sponsorship Marketing for IBM, in a statement. “The explosion of mobile and social technologies has radically changed the ways companies and people access data, giving them many choices over how, when and where they tap into information. From watching a game on TV, catching video highlights on a smartphone to monitoring online sales via an iPad, uninhibited access to big data has become an essential element of business and life.”

IBM and the USTA also are delivering a second screen experience to fans watching from the stands on television or online via a robust, mobile-friendly that enables fans to easily navigate and access content, data and stats from a variety of devices. The US Open mobile fan experience features numerous enhancements from IBM Interactive, the company’s digital design agency, including a refreshed iPad app that offers integrated social features, instant access to live video and in-depth match analysis and statistics. IBM also boosted and improved apps it has developed for the USTA for the iPhone and Android platforms, with a scrolling timeline that keeps fans informed of new, trending social topics, match photos and more.

Also, on site at the Tennis Center, IBM is bringing back the IBM Game Changer Interactive Wall for a second consecutive year. The Game Changer wall extends many of the and mobile app features and provides greater insight into the US Open action using the power of analytics. Tennis fans can interact with the wall and access live match scores, in-depth analysis and data visualizations.

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