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IBM Aims To Bring Sports Venues Into The Digital Age

IBM has announced a consortium of architects, telecos and digital designers to bring immersive digital experiences to sporting and entertainment venues.
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IBM today launched the Sports and Entertainment Global Consortium and its Sports, Entertainment, and Fan Experience consulting practice with the aim of modernizing venues and the sports experience.

Founding members of the consortium, include the following, listed by area of expertise:

  • Architecture and design: HOK
  • Construction and design: AECOM and Whiting Turner
  • Infrastructure technology and software: Alcatel-Lucent, Anixter, CommScope, Corning, Juniper Networks, Ruckus Wireless, Schneider Electric, Smarter Risk, Tellabs, Ucopia, Zebra Technologies, YinzCam (IPTV), and Zhone
  • Communications solutions providers: AT&T, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Level 3, and Zayo
  • Fan experience consulting and data management integration: IBM

The consortium members already are working with more than 250 of the world's top venues worldwide.

Jim Rushton, the former Miami Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium Chief Revenue Officer, is joining IBM to lead the Sports, Entertainment, and Fan Experience consulting practice.

This consulting practice leverages the experience accumulated by the IBM Interactive Experience, which has been working for events such as The Masters and the tennis Grand Slam events -- Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open.

"It is an opportunity to really change the way in which people engage and consume sport and entertainment activities," Michael J. Dixon, general manager for IBM's global smarter cities business, told me after a special press briefing at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. "The practice is going to be very much based on a broad base fan experience, whether the fan is at the game, or that fan is at the other side of the world following his or her favorite football team or popstar or other entertainment venue."

He added that "there is no limit to the products and services that we can deliver, and part of that shows that we are teaming with high-level architects, infrastructure designers, planners, IT companies, communications networks, integrators, app developers, you name it. [...] IBM doesn't have all the capability, and that is part of the richness of what we're doing."

According to the press release, IBM will use its data management and analytics capabilities and experience to provide sports enterprises and venues "digital capabilities to create deeper levels of engagement with fans," converting the engagement in new ways to monetize the events. In order to do that, venues and teams must be able to deliver "high-bandwidth connectivity, with services and content increasingly customized to individual preferences."

[Read IBM Watson: Your Fantasy Football Secret Weapon.]

Venues, teams and artists now compete with high-definition television, ubiquitous mobile devices, and social media platforms. IBM wants to help them convert those platforms of the 21st century into new revenue streams and provide fans with the best experience the new technologies can offer.

Sports enterprise businesses have great potential for growth and profit. Citing figures from consulting firm A.T. Kearney, the IBM release notes that "sports annually generate nearly $700 billion around the world and the market is growing faster than Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in nearly every country. The modern venue setting demands a sophisticated technology and wireless environment."

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