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By Stephen Hammer, IBM Interactive Leader

The 2012 US Open tennis tournament is here and fans are gearing up to watch the world’s best tennis players compete over the next two weeks. For the avid tennis fan, keeping track of everything happening at the tournament is quite an undertaking.

I’ve worked at IBM for 15 years, and I’ve collaborated with sports organizations throughout my tenure. I’ve witnessed a lot of changes at the US Open during this time—from tournament location to acrylic courts—but what I have found consistent over this period is how existing technologies are transformed for these big events. This year’s US Open will continue this trend with the introduction of several Official US Open apps developed by IBM.

Remember when instant messaging (think AOL) was popular because for the first time people were able to instantly connect and communicate with one another? You may even recall the wide interest in posting photographs online during the 90s. Over the years, these concepts have evolved and are now the underpinning of social channels used around the world. We now have Twitter, Flickr and Instagram, which use the same interfacing technology to send short messages and share photos, but in a more user-friendly way that serves current interests.

IBM Interactive, a digital agency within IBM Smarter Commerce, partners with many sporting events, such as the US Open, Wimbledon and the US Open Golf. Through this partnership, our goal reflects this same trend: take established technology, and with IBM analytics, repurpose it to enhance the fan experience.

This year the USTA and IBM Interactive introduced the first US Open iPad app. The app provides an interactive second-screen experience for those fans watching the Open on television or online. Fans can communicate with peers through enhanced social features, access live match video, watch highlights and interviews, as well as check out match analysis, live scores and a variety of in-depth statistical information When we worked with the USTA to develop the app, we wanted to combine the iPad’s user-friendly interface capabilities with predictive analytics to create something that delivered what tennis fans want: an interactive and immediate fan experience.

But this isn’t the only reason we develop apps and solutions for the US Open and other events. In fact, the world of sports provides us an opportunity to demonstrate how we can help organizations find new ways to uncover hidden insights from their data. Major sporting events like the US Open are becoming living labs where we can illustrate how real-time analytics and cloud computing are transforming all aspects of the game — whether on the court or in business. This process also allows us to refine our technologies so that we can deliver the most accurate and useful information to customers, clients and fans.

I like to think of this as innovation in motion—and the thought that something newer, better and more predictive may be right around the corner as a result—well, that’s pretty exciting.

Download the iPad App

Download a US Open infographic

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