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1/25/2014
09:06 AM
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SAP Preps Super Bowl 'Stats Zone'

NFL sponsor SAP is bringing a giant data-analysis expo to 'Super Bowl Boulevard' on New York's Times Square.

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SAP is hoping to give football fans some idea of what its technology is all about through the SAP Stats Zone, an interactive exhibition set to appear at the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway from Jan. 29 through Super Bowl Sunday.

SAP is one of eight NFL sponsors bringing interactive exhibits to Super Bowl Boulevard, a 13-block stretch of Broadway from 34th Street to 47th Street that will be temporarily closed off to vehicles and filled with football-related exhibits. The NFL is hosting a league apparel shop at Macy's Herald Square, an autograph and concert stage at 39th Street, and a field-goal kicking challenge on Times Square, among other exhibits. SAP's Stats Zone will be joined by sponsor exhibits from Papa John's Pizza, Bridgestone tires, Pepsi, Snickers, GMC, McDonald's, and Microsoft's Xbox One.

SAP's Stats Zone will have to stand out amid the glitz of Times Square, which presents quite a challenge, according to Ben Riches, an executive with GMR Marketing, the firm that helped SAP design and build its 40-foot-by-45-foot display.

"Our strength is that we have real data from social analytics, and it will help fans become smarter about the Super Bowl," Riches said.

[Want more on football and technology? Read NFL Examines Stadium WiFi Analytics.]

The exhibit is powered by SAP analytics software, NetBase sentiment analysis, and the Hana in-memory platform, but the focus will be on football, not the technology. The exterior of the display includes giant LED scoreboards that will scroll through stats on 20 different topics related to the Super Bowl. Head-to-head comparisons will show fan passion -- as expressed across social networks and the Internet -- for the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

A season-long analysis shows positive and negative sentiment for each team tracked throughout the 20 weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Passion for Denver, for example, hit a season high when it came back against Kansas City in week 13 (see image below).

Another display shows which teams the majority of fans are rooting for state by state across the country. It's pretty obvious which way Colorado and Washington are leaning, but fans will see trending sentiment from Hawaii to Maine and in the Super Bowl host states of New York and New Jersey.

SAP Stats Zone under construction in a warehouse in Bethpage, NY.
SAP Stats Zone under construction in a warehouse in Bethpage, NY.

Tracking the hottest topics throughout Super Bowl week, a word tag cloud display will show the biggest buzzwords cropping up in the social sphere. For example, early analyses show that 65% of fans are hoping it will snow during the game. The latest sentiment scores will appear when the Stat Zone goes live on the 29th, but they're also accessible at SAP.com/superbowl for those not visiting Times Square in person.

Displays inside the Stats Zone will include an interactive NFL Archive Quiz game that will promote the NFL Game Rewind feature on NFL.com. A Super Bowl Character Creator display lets kids (and adults) create their own player stats, digitally placing their face inside a helmet, and share the resulting image via email.

Playing off of SAP's sponsorship of fantasy football on NFL.com/fantasy, the Stats Zone will also feature head-to-head player matchups statistically analyzing various aspects of player performance. There was no word on whether Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman -- he of the controversial post-game interview -- will be one of the featured players.

The Stats Zone scoreboard displays trending fan-sentiment analysis scores.
The Stats Zone scoreboard displays trending fan-sentiment analysis scores.

If you ask average tourists on Times Square what they know about SAP's ERP, CRM, or HCM applications, you're likely to get blank stares. SAP is hoping the Stats Zone, like the NBA.com/stats site it developed with the NBA, will make the company's technology more accessible.

"Over the last two years, SAP's sports sponsorships have changed focus," explained Dan Fleetwood, group director of global sponsorships at SAP. "We're trying to talk to the fans and humanize the brand instead of talking in 1s and 0s."

Doug Henschen is executive editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data, and analytics. He previously served as editor-in-chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor-in-chief of Transform magazine, and executive editor at DM News.

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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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1/27/2014 | 10:49:05 AM
Why does SAP need to be a consumer brand?
Is this mostly an investor relations strategy, to make the company look more pervasive and important?
Collin Tesler
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Collin Tesler,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/27/2014 | 11:58:48 AM
LiveCompare?
Very interesting to say the least for SAP. The dashboards and analytics quite frankly resemble a similarity with IntelliCorp's LiveCompare software. I am very interested to see how this plays out. Can Sunday come any sooner?
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 12:42:49 PM
Re: Why does SAP need to be a consumer brand?
I talked with SAP CEO Bill McDermott about that point a few months ago -- why SAP wants/needs to become a consumer brand. It has a lot to do with the younger, hipper, technically astute employee SAP wants to attract to the company. SAP's reputation is as a first-class developer of critical but "boring" B2B apps (my words, not his). SAP wants to be seen as playing in hotter verticals, including professional sports.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 12:46:59 PM
Sentiment
If sentiment for the Denver Broncos hit a season high when it came back against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 13, then sentiment for the Seattle Seahawks must have hit a season low after Richard Sherman's trash talk following the NFC Championship Game. I wonder if SAP tracked that negative sentiment and is making it public.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 2:25:54 PM
Re: Sentiment
I decided to take a look, Rob. While the main site page is attractive, I wasn't able to find that information, unfortunately.

From this: http://global.sap.com/campaigns/superbowl-2014/index.html

You get dumped off to a yawner of a blog post: http://scn.sap.com/community/business-trends/blog/2014/01/18/welcome-to-the-smarter-side-of-super-bowl-xlviii

#Fail.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 2:38:32 PM
Re: Sentiment
I guess that's the problem of providing such negative stats while also being a Super Bowl sponsor: You don't want to rock the boat too much. 
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 9:30:15 PM
Seems you have to poke around
I'm hoping we'll see more and better visualizations starting January 29, but if you go to the link for NFL Fan Visualization http://global.sap.com/campaigns/superbowl-2014/index.html#section_1 and scroll down a tad to "get started," you'll see some of the interesting analyses. For example, state-by-state fan support seems to fall roughly along red-state for Broncos, blue-state for Seahawks lines, but move the slider to go back in time.

Another #fail, though: you have to "wait patiently" for "Real-time" results. Hope that's NetBase lag time and not an example of Hana "real-time" performance!
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 9:43:55 PM
Re: Actually there are some cools stats if you poke around
North Carolina's the most talked about team in Iowa?

I think pro sports leagues are going to have to do more of this kind of data sharing, and providing interactive and visualization tools that get people talking about the game. For one thing, fantasy leagues thrive on stats. You're going to need to back up your trash talking with data visualizations.
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
1/28/2014 | 12:13:56 AM
Go, er, Denver
I can report with a clear conscience that there's not a lot of enthusiasm for the Seattle SeaHawks in San Francisco, despite California's blue state status.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/28/2014 | 5:44:34 PM
Why Does IBM Have To Be A Consumer Brand?
IBM has been marketing to the "consumer" community for a long time. I think SAP is following in the footseps of IBM, which has been all over tennis, golf, and, until last year, football. They're after business leaders and wanna-be business leaders, not the beer-swilling types who paint themselves green and hold up signs and foam fingers.
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