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Revolutionising game day for sports fans and operators alike

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 Revolutionising game day for sports fans and operators alike

How Connected Stadiums can give competitive edge in fan experience, profitability, and stadium performance

Matthew O'Connor | Head of Strategy and Business Development, Dimension Data

Matthew O’Connor | Head of Strategy and Business Development, Dimension Data

We’ve all been there. Waiting in a mile-long ticketing queue to enter a stadium while we can hear the crowds roaring with excitement inside. The event has started and we’re still stuck outside…

There’s a new breed of digital sports fan on the horizon and they’ve changed the game for all of us. This new digital super fan wants a unique experience – not only on-screen on devices, but also in-stadium at a live event.

Stadium operators, systems integrators, and vendors have now joined the party. Advanced stadiums of the future – also called Connected Stadiums – enhance the live enjoyment of sports for fans by utilising technology.

I’m in an extremely fortunate position – I’m a sports fan and I also work for Dimension Data’s dedicated sports and entertainment vertical division. I get to see first-hand how the work we’re doing as a master systems integrator is transforming both historical venues into Connected Stadiums and new-build projects into cutting-edge arenas, and how we’re revolutionising the experience for fans and operators alike.

Stadiums of the future – 5 critical components that make up a Connected Stadium:

 1. Technology to create unique fan experiences

 Digital sports fans are often mobile-first or mobile-only users. Connected Stadiums fulfil the digital sports fan’s needs by providing reliable access to new applications and services.

Here’s how … Fans can now use the super computer in their pockets to power ticketing and avoid standing in queues, access navigation and wayfinding, as well as car share and transport services. Fans can also participate in online betting and order food and beverage services online, and have it delivered to their seats.

Most important, fans can watch instant HD video replays and access real-time statistics and additional content from their mobile devices during live events. App functionality also makes it easier to share content on social networks to allow the amateur commentator to come alive.

 2. Internet of Things-sensors and analytics to capture the fan journey

 It’s critical for stadium operators to build closer relationships with fans. The only way to do this is to capture fan data: what they’re buying, where they’re moving, and how they’re travelling to and from a venue. To enable data tracking, sensors, and beacons can be deployed, and analytics then provides insights on fan behaviour to inform game day management, security, and business operations.

This information is the ‘oil’ that can power the closer interaction between a stadium and fans, enabling new services to be designed and monetised, marketing campaigns to be launched, sponsorships to be sold, and for experiences to improve.

3. Security to prevent incidents

Security is a major concern for stadium operators because hooliganism and terrorism have become realities. Fans’ safety is a top concern and although most stadiums nowadays have CCTV systems, it can be layered with facial recognition technologies to highlight behaviour that’s suspect.

Moreover, by layering this data with access control and ticketing systems in one platform, stadium operators can manage risk and crowd control much more effectively.

The focus of these technologies is to then ultimately manage physical and digital threats and provide channels to liaise with police and local law enforcement agencies if an incident occurs.

4. Digital infrastructure to enable everything

 A critical component that will set stadium operators apart from competitors and allow them to host major tournament finals and not just smaller league games, is their digital infrastructure. None of the smart technologies can be enabled without the digital infrastructure.

The infrastructure consists of the LAN, WLAN, as well as high-density Wi-Fi which covers key areas in the stadium (for example, for operations, teams and the media, and to enable video and smart signage).

As broadcast technologies evolve and virtual and augmented realities become more prevalent, a solid digital infrastructure is non-negotiable to provide bandwidth to host games and major events.

 5. System integration of functional components

 It’s essential to deploy a platform and services to integrate individual functional components around a stadium: ticketing, retail, food and drink, stadium infrastructure (for example, lighting, CCTV, IPTV, and digital signage).

This is where Dimension Data’s heritage as a system integrator provides major value to stadium operators. We work with different vendors and tie technologies together in managed services to reduce complexity, costs, and provide operational efficiencies. But that’s not all we do…

Complex made easy with a Stadium-in-a-Box

Stadiums are complicated places, both new-build and existing, and to simplify this, Dimension Data has partnered with SAP. Both our organisations have a strong heritage and commitment in sports and entertainment.

 What you get with a Stadium-in-a Box is Dimension Data, as well as our parent company, the NTT Group’s expertise. We digitally transform businesses or new stadiums with smart technology capabilities from the network through to applications.

Also ‘in the box’ is SAP’s Live Venue Platform which is a key Internet of Things application. It allows data from sensors and existing services to be integrated and analysed on one platform and fan applications to be built using that data to create new services, such as smart parking.

Dimension Data implements SAP’s Live Venue and hosts it on our Managed Cloud Platform Stadium. This enables operators to make decisions in real-time and deliver unique fan experiences such as smart ticketing, smart travel, wayfinding, access to statistics and additional content, and smart purchasing.

We also manage the design and deployment of other Internet of Things devices and transmission networks, and design and deliver additional complementary applications such as security management. We do this by leveraging key vendor alliances with the likes of Cisco and HPE Aruba.

To see first-hand the benefits of working with Dimension Data and SAP on your stadium project, watch the video below. We deployed this solution at the SAP Arena in Mannheim. It shows the strengths of the Dimension Data and SAP partnership and how we change the way stadiums are being operated on a global scale.

A win-win for stadium operators and for sports fans….

When I talk to other sports fans, other colleagues in the sports industry and from my own experience, what’s clear is that fans are excited by the possibilities technology can offer them at live sports events.

Looking ahead to major events like the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, where the NTT Group will be providing services, the fan experience is already well on the road to being truly revolutionised by immersive technologies like virtual reality and wearables.

Live sports create more engagement opportunities than any other form of content. A Connected Stadium offers the opportunity to create the pathways for those engagements – to collect data on what fans want and don’t want and increase revenue, and to optimise investments.

Click on the image below for an enlarged view.

Connected Stadiums enhance the live enjoyment of sports and more

Connected Stadiums enhance the live enjoyment of sports and more