You know spring season is back when we start hearing all about March Madness – where 68 college basketball teams from Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are competing to win the national championship. With hundreds of games taking place at venues across the nation over the next several weeks and millions of fans tuned in via TV or mobile, connectivity and technology will play a prominent role in delivering on one of America’s favorite sporting experiences.

This year, Cisco is thrilled to be at the center of the action, as the Final Four and National Championship Game will take place at the University of Phoenix Stadium, a Cisco-powered venue that will keep fans connected to all the action throughout every game. Leading up to the final weekend, many other Cisco-enabled venues across the country – including Madison Square Garden in New York and SAP Center in San Jose – will host regional games as the teams vie for a coveted spot in the Final Four. On college basketball’s biggest stage, Cisco is proud to deliver the secure, reliable and engaging digital experience that we know fans expect.

As fans’ demands escalate, teams, leagues and venues are constantly on the lookout for new digital innovations to enhance the experience before, during and after the game. At Cisco, we are proud to have brought that innovative spirit to our partners for nearly a decade, allowing teams to create a customized and convenient fan journey that ultimately lead to new monetization opportunities.

Today, mobile is the primary driver for innovation, allowing venues, leagues, and teams to create new opportunities to interact, engage and reach customers. According to Cisco’s Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI), global mobile data traffic will increase sevenfold from 2016 to 2021, with a projected 12 billion global mobile connections by 2021. Clearly, harnessing the power of mobile cannot be over-stated, and the teams and league who figure out how to use it to enhance the fan experience and generate new revenue streams will undoubtedly win.

While keeping one eye towards the future, our partners are laying the groundwork today with Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA). DNA – the essence of Cisco’s Connected Sports Solutions –  provides a simple, intelligent, automated and secure platform for digital transformation in sports and entertainment venues around the world.

And there’s no time like March Madness to showcase the importance of secure and reliable connectivity for millions of fans around the world checking their brackets and live-streaming their favorite teams, from the first round to the Sweet Sixteen to the Final Four. Whether fans are looking for information on services offered in-venue, or searching for up-to-date information on other games happening across the country, or even a replay of an unbelievable slam dunk – no matter what the reason, fans expect more out of their mobile devices than ever before. And sporting events are no exception.

There’s never been a better time to digitize the sports and entertainment experience. Share your comments (and March Madness picks!) below, and follow us on Twitter @CiscoSESG.