I love sports as much as anyone. But not when I have to battle parking bottlenecks, endless ticket lines, and glacial concession stands. After all, who wants to wait 20 minutes for a beer and a hot dog if it means missing a key play?
At Cisco, our teams work day in and day out to help solve these challenges by delivering a digital network architecture that is simple, intelligent, automated, and secure. For years, we have been helping teams use digital technologies to transform the stadium experience in exciting new ways. And today, even more innovations are on the horizon.
The biggest winners? The fans.
A recent report in Connected Futures takes a deeper look at some of the innovations and best practices our customers around the globe are driving to deliver the experiences digital fans demand.
Cisco’s Connected Futures team met with business and technology leaders from three leading sports franchises: the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust in Australia, which includes Sydney Cricket Ground and Allianz Stadium. Very different sports, with different cultures, but all share a common purpose. Each organization knows that blending digital solutions into the physical stadium experience is critical to remaining competitive.
“Our fans really are looking to have a much better live experience when they come to our games,” Jane Coles of the Sydney Cricket Club told our team. “We’re trying to offer something where it’s easy for our fans to go from their couch into their car, or by public transport, make their way to the venue, and really have that fabulous experience inside the venue and then back out again to their home.”
Getting the fans off of that couch is harder than ever. That’s because the home viewing experience is better than ever. But stadiums can compete — on a digital level.
That means first getting the digital infrastructure right. As Todd Caflisch, chief technology officer of the Minnesota Vikings, explained, his organization had an opportunity to build that digital foundation from the ground up.
“We’re very lucky at the Vikings,” Calflisch told Connected Futures. “We just opened the new stadium back in August, absolutely embedded with every bit of the latest technology, from beacons for wayfinding, to app integration, high density DAS, and Wi-Fi systems, for connectivity for our fans. The ability to order food from your mobile device. Just a variety of things like that. We’re still just scratching the surface.”
A Cisco survey in 2015 found that fans’ demand for in-game digital experiences had doubled in three years. And that trend shows no signs of slowing.
But as our stories show, the right technology investments pay off for fans and teams. At one annual sporting event, Sydney Cricket Club saw a 47 percent increase in food revenue after adding an express mobile app.
The Golden State Warriors, meanwhile, are driving digital transformation in nearly every aspect of their game, on the court and off.
To help their players become more competitive, the Warriors were early adopters of devices such as Sport VU cameras, which study players’ movements and performances during games and practices.
But data analytics are helping many other sides of the organization as well. The team tracks ticket and merchandise sales, food and beverage consumption — even the buying preferences of fans as related to the price of their seats.
“We take our analytics very seriously,” Chip Bowers, the Warriors chief marketing officer, told Connected Futures. “Ultimately, the information is shared internally so we’re better informed about what’s happening in our business.”
Like the Vikings and Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Trust, the fan experience is paramount.
And as teams invest in that agile and modern digital network architecture, we see an exciting future for live sports. Especially as new technologies, like virtual and augmented reality get integrated.
In the meantime, get out to the ballpark, stadium or arena! Even if your favorite team loses, there’s a good chance you’ll have a great – more connected and digital – experience to add to your memories.