As a kid, I remember watching the Jetsons on television and being in awe. The technology and gadgets seemed so far-fetched at the time. And yet, here we are in 2017. And so much of what once seemed impossible is no longer. Digital acceleration is happening at incredible speeds. Toyota is building a flying car to light the Olympic Torch at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2020 Games. This is reality – mind-blowing, right?

But let’s come back to the present day for a second. Recently, I was fortunate to spend several days with colleagues from across the sports and entertainment industry at two incredible events in London – the Leaders Sports Business Summit and ASPIRE4SPORT Congress and Exhibition – that facilitated some fascinating discussions highlighting the strategic impact digital technologies are having on the business model.

At Leaders Sport Business Summit, two main points that kept me increasingly optimistic about the need, desire and ability to innovate:

  1. Fan’s insatiable demand for high quality, relevant content remains at the top of the funnel for the sports industry. Digital and social continue to change the way fans consume content, requiring teams, leagues, and broadcasters to look for unique content distribution channels to deliver authentic content to their fans to keep them coming back for more.
  2. Data and analytics are also playing a larger role in shaping sports, and not just on the field of play. Real-time data and customer insights can help teams deliver the experiences fans demand in a more personalized and engaging fashion, ultimately helping increase the number of loyal fans.

At ASPIRE4SPORT, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion about Digital Stadiums and Fan Engagement. The biggest take-away? If you’re not looking five years, or even a decade, into the future and innovating against that, then you’re already behind.

At Cisco, we’ve held with this tenet for years – priding ourselves on being ahead of the curve in order to predict the consumer and technology trends, and using that insight to inform the products and solutions we’re creating today.

We’ve recently done some research into what the consumer of 2020 (and the decade to follow) will look like – and let me tell you, I’m thrilled to see what’s coming in the future for sporting events. The Consumer 2020 will be his/her own platform, studio, media channel and CEO. In layman’s terms, this means that the fan of the future will have increasing influence and control over customizing their brand interactions and live sporting experience from door-to-door.

As emphasized by my Cisco colleague Willie Kopp during a related panel discussion on The Impact of Disruptive Technologies on Sports – technology shifts and changes continue to come, and some will even go away, but with so many changes on the horizon, there is increasingly more value and emphasis on having the right digital platform in place to be able to adapt to the inevitable shifts that occur. Cisco is proud to deliver a next generation Network – one that is automated, flexible, intelligent and secure for sports and entertainment properties to accelerate their digital journey. Competing for that Consumer 2020 – or Fan 2020 in our world – begins now.

Learn more about Cisco’s Connected Sports solutions: www.cisco.com/go/sports