Sports Strategy in Digital Disrupted Introduction

About Sports Strategy in Digital Course
January 31, 2017
Sports Strategy in Digital: Actioned Introduction
May 13, 2017

Sports Strategy in Digital Disrupted Introduction

The online course ‘Sports Strategy in Digital: The DATA MODEL Story’ is now available on Institute Of Sport

Excerpt from Disrupted: Going Digital

In sport, disruption can come from several sources including;


  1. Outside of the organisation from other industries – Uber, the online taxi service or airbnb the online accommodation service could change the dynamics of existing sport partnerships. For example, NFL’s SuperBowl 2015 partnership with Uber marked a changing of the guard in terms of event transport preferences; online work platforms such as upwork and fiverr can displace traditional in-house, non-core activities, such as graphic design, translation and copywriting services.


<Reading: How the Internet of Things influences the sharing economy


  1. Where a new competitor comes between you and your audience. Consider how Apple, a tech company that owns no music, has totally transformed the music industry.  Are fantasy or e-sports getting in between you and your fans (or potential fans) or are other sources of leisure and entertainment, fueled by digital innovation, threatening your sports own popularity?


<Reading: Premier League eye digital gaming social media biggest threats to sport leagues>


  1. Disruption can also come from within the organisation itself which could be fueled by what competitors are doing. Sport businesses need to adopt a fan-centric model that embraces digital capabilities to bring them closer to fans at all stages of their interaction and participation. Also, if another club, team or federation adopts a new technology or means of engagement then what are you own business choices? Without a digital age vision and strategy, decision making is complicated and reactive.


<Reading: Warriors can teach small business a lesson.>


Disrupted Sport

We can consider sport as perhaps the most disruptive of all non tech industries. As such, sport is cast into a range of digital roles, including as;

  • Software developer: For growth and competitive advantage in core areas such as developing the fan experience, on-field performance, event logistics etc, sport businesses have to innovate with software – e.g. digital platforms and apps – to meet their specific requirements. Tailored solutions are needed since off-the-shelf solutions don’t provide proprietary advantage, nor is the killer app or platform rarely available.
  • Experience provider: For sport businesses it’s no longer just simply about delivering a product or service it’s about providing fans and members with digital tools so that they can tailor their own experience (hence the software requirements).
  • Media publisher: Social media has minimized barriers to entry for organisations to publish content. Due to the demand that fans have for engaging with their team or event, sport businesses have evolved to the point where they are now media publishers, often with largely in-house teams of text, image and video content producers. With the publishing bar being set so low, the teams that have the highest levels of engagement are achieving this by being creative and contextually relevant for their community.  Sport as a category dominates social media and, for example, more than 50% of all Twitter posts are about sport.  Sport businesses can’t simply participate in the conversation; they need to lead their community.
  • Digital retailer: sport may only have a single event, membership program or a once a week game in which to maximize revenue. Therefore Sports are now digital retailer to maximize opportunities for commercial revenue.  Importantly the same technologies being used to drive revenues, e.g., from seat upgrades to online ordering, are also the same tools that are enabling fans to create their own experience, i.e., connectivity and game-day apps. The NFL, and its teams, are leading innovators in this area.
  • Data aggregator: The demand that fans have for team, league or event insights is far different than any other industry. Consumers aren’t interested in behind the scenes of making a car, coffee or hotel room for example. However fans crave data from inside sports four walls and the business must provide that as entertainment.  Getting data into a manageable format to entertain fans, inform participants, manage performance or understand the market at an individual level is a fundamental challenge that all sport organisations need to address.

All of this adds up to the business case for any and all sports organisations to lead their own digital transformation efforts.

We will now move on to exploring how the five forces of digital disruption have shaped the digital economy and what that means for business and the sports industry. These are:

  • Sensors and the Internet of Things
  • Mobile computing
  • Cloud computing
  • Digital and Social Media
  • Big Data and Analytics


<Activity: Read Sloan MIT article Keep calm and manage disruption and start thinking about your own organisation and how it has been, and is being, disrupted by changes taking place within your own sports sector and the broader digital economy.>