Since ” ’tis the season” for giving in many parts of the world, and as end of the calendar year approaches, I’ve decided to finish my working year reflecting upon the biggest “Giving Back” initiative I was personally part of in September of this year (2012) -- my two stages of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, or RAB as we called it in Cisco UK & Ireland -- an event we aligned to Cisco’s overall involvement in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. Time has flown since I initially blogged about my nerves pre-ride. I reflected on our “Virtual RAB” -- designed to give everyone at Cisco an easier chance of participating -- also as part of our overall fundraising, and told you about the “Network on Wheels” or Cisco NOW Van that supported us with remote (very remote!) internet access as we cycled through all weathers from the bottom to the very top of the UK. The Cisco team raised around £20,000 (over $32,000 USD) -- while the event as a whole, with over 700 riders, raised over £1 Million in total -- all for paralympic athletes.
It was indeed an experience! While the second of my two days was a beautiful day for cycling -- as the video clip from Cisco UK & Ireland Senior VP Phil Smith (quite a cyclist btw!) shows -- the first day was a 12 hour test in truely horrendous stormy conditions! Let me tell you more about that day and show you some of the sights on the way.
As a nation, we enjoyed a successful and memorable London 2012 Olympic Games and are now enjoying the start of the Paralympic Games. As London 2012 draws to a close, many will be asking what will be left for future generations to enjoy. Following the years of hard work and investment by Great Britain to put on the show that we have, it is now time to think about the future and the benefits of the Olympic Legacy.
To gain better insight into exactly what the British public expect in terms of legacy, we conducted a survey to ask what is important to them personally. The results revealed that over half of Britons surveyed (62%) believe that the Games will benefit UK business in the long term and create a lasting legacy for the country. An impressive 60% of those surveyed also confirmed that they believe the Games may help to improve technology and innovation in the UK, inspiring entrepreneurship within the sector and helping to build a brilliant future for Britain and industry moving forward.
Take a look around. Almost everything you see is touched by technology today, sports included. Imagine a spray-on clothing within a couple of decades that repels water or Triathletes could enter a “spray chamber” to change their clothes between events and 3D printing to build kit such as running shoes to suit the weather on the day or compensate for injury before a runner goes out on the track. All this and more will surely work up adrenaline to technology savvy sport lovers.
Technology is the new game changer in Olympic sport. And all sport fans would agree that technology is as much a part of an athlete’s armory today as nutrition, training and coaching. As human pro-thletics advance, science and technology will not only make possible the disabled to compete, but the able-bodied to do better. Do you know, Tiger Woods had eye surgery to improve his (normal) vision. Well, sounds fine to me. But consider this.
In 2009, the swimming regulatory body, Fina, banned high-tech swimsuits after 94% of races at the 2008 Beijing Olympics were won by competitors wearing the LZR racer suit. The suit is said to cut an elite swimmer’s time by around 2%. Michael Phelps himself said, “When I hit the water [in the LZR swimsuit], I feel like a rocket.” Within a week of its launch, three world records were broken by swimmers wearing the suit. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LZR_Racer)
Seems to me it’s less likely that poorer countries with less sports budgets can keep up. Is it not surprising that poorer countries compete less in sports involving a lot of technology, such as cycling, sailing and rowing. And lets not forget the amount of investment that goes into training elite athletes is phenomenal.
Dr Emily Ryall, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Gloucester and vice-chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association, says “The Olympics is never going to be a fair competition. So much high-performance sport is driven by technology now, from sports nutrition to psychology to clothing and footwear.”
But enough on technology impacting players…that’s one side of the story. What about technology impacting the fans, the audience themselves and how. One big shift is clearly social media. But why? It’s simple: Four years is an eternity in Internet time and since the last Summer Olympics in 2008, social media has exploded.
2012: Facebook claims more than 835+ million users, is fast becoming a portal to the web at large for many and is a publicly traded company. Its founder Mark Zuckerberg is a global celebrity today. (Source: www.internetworldstats.com/facebook)
2012: On March 21, 2012, Twitter celebrated its sixth birthday while also announcing that it has 140 million users and sees 340 million tweets per day. The number of users is up 40% from their September 2011 number, which was said to have been at 100 million at the time. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter)
2008: In July 2006, Youtube declared more than 65,000 new videos uploaded every day with 100 million video views per day. By fall of 2008, YouTube users were uploading 10 hours of video to the site per minute. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtube)
2012: London Olympic moments are sure to go viral and become immortalized on YouTube seemingly as they happen this summer, and it’s easy to see why. Youtube says it receives over 800 million unique visits per month watching more than 3 billion hours of video per month and upload 72 hours of new video content per minute.
Just looking at the staggering numbers of these three social networks reveals a sporting scene and world at large that have been transformed by social media since the last Summer Olympics.
And did I miss to add that I have’nt taken into account services like Pinterest, Foursquare and Google+ — none of which even existed in 2008. This summer, expect news to break, social sharing records to fall and moments to live on as never possible before, all thanks to social media!
One wonders to think — will all this pale in comparison to what 2016 has in store? One can only imagine.
How innovatively did you leverage social media during the 2012 London Olympics?
Please note:“The opinions expressed in this blog are my own views and not those of Cisco.”
While the 100m sprint will (hopefully!) be won in a sub-10 second time, without doubt the winner will have taken much, much longer in preparation. Like all the Olympic sports, the 100 sprint is an event where the participants will have prepared for several -- if not many -- years. They are at the top of their game. As I learned recently in a seminar at our Cisco Scotland office with Olympic medal winners Roger Black and Steve Backley, what is maybe not so visible is that they all have an extensive team behind them, helping them deliver that fantastic time. And despite their own expertise, commitment and talent, they will have called on specialist expertise -- physios, expert trainers, even sports psychologists -- to help them accelerate from those starting blocks and over that finishing line in record time. And for those competitors participating for the first time in such a major event, this background team will be all the more important in helping them develop their race plan.
So now onto cloud automation, and how Cisco Services can -- in an analagous manner -- help you accelerate from the starting block with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Starter Edition ….
Watching the Graham Norton chat show on BBC on Saturday night I was delighted to hear that Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am has donated half a million pounds to the Prince’s Trust to use music to inspire children to be excited about Science Technology Engineering and Maths at school.