By Chris Thomas
With technology in sport advancing at such fast pace, the ways in which fans can engage with their favourite game is changing rapidly. In today’s ‘always on’ society, even when fans can’t attend a match in person, they have a whole host of ways in which they can experience the action – whether in the comfort of their home or on the move. Some argue the way modern technology has developed in providing an added layer of real-time insight and information, remote interaction is actually beginning to rival watching a game in the flesh.
As Wimbledon kicked off in London SW19 last week, the way technology is playing an increasingly key role in enhancing the fan experience can be clearly seen. With ownership of smartphones and tablet computers becoming commonplace all around the world, it seems second nature for tennis fans to turn to social media to comment on the matches unfurling on their TV screens. Indeed, our Social Sentiment analysis shows that while Rafa Nadal is the most talked about player it is the Brits’ Andy Murray (37% positive, 52% neutral) and Laura Robson (44% positive, 50% neutral) who are leading the positive mentions.
In addition to monitoring a player’s social media popularity off the court, IBM’s SlamTracker technology offers ‘Keys to the Match’ which uses analytics to predict how they might perform on the court. It’s a similar approach to one we recently adopted for this year’s Six Nations rugby tournament, where we partnered with the Rugby Football Union to identify three crucial areas of performance specific to each team ahead of every match. In the context of Wimbledon, we’re analysing both competitors’ historic head-to-head stats from over eight years of Grand Slam Tennis (touching upon 41 million data points) to determine which strategies might best improve their chances of securing a win.
We’ve had a lot of interest in SlamTracker from clients from a range of industries. And they’re not just interested in how things like ‘Keys to the Match’ might give them the edge when it comes to debating a likely winner with their friends over a punnet of strawberries and cream. All of our clients want to get more value and information out of their data to enable them to make better and more informed business decisions. Wimbledon is a great way of showing the world what we can do in the context of tennis, but the very same principles can be used in business too to gain a competitive edge and a better bottom line.