Major sporting events like the US Open are not only exciting to watch and follow, but are also a living lab for how "big-data" can translate into big business. This year, the USTA is using predictive analytics and cloud computing to improve the experience for everyone: fans, tennis players, event organizers, and broadcasters. USTA's Phil Green and IBM's Rick Singer explain how.
I mentioned in my post yesterday that in 2005, as Hurricane Katrina was blowing into the Gulf Coast, I was flying up to NYC to cover IBM's involvement in facilitating technology solutions for the US Open tennis tournament.
Well, here we are seven years later, and that partnership continues. Today, the US Tennis Association (USTA) announced a new round of technologies to help fans become immersed in the 2012 US Open action.
This year, IBM is going to apply predictive analytics, cloud computing, and mobile technology expertise to connect tennis fans, wherever they are, to the action on the courts.
IBM has created a unique digital environment that provides US Open spectators, athletes, and media uninterrupted access to data, facts, stats, and content via their tablets, smartphones, PCs, and other devices.
This enhanced, interactive fan experience uses new technologies that thousands of businesses worldwide are embracing to up their game by uncovering insights from big data.
New iPad app: streaming matches
New for this year's tournament is an iPad app that serves accurate streams of match data, access to live video, highlights, and in-depth statistical information.
Enhanced social media features will enable fans to communicate with other fans around the world (but be nice!). The iPad app also delivers an insider's view of who's gaining the edge on the court and most likely to win -- well before the final score tells the story.
This app complements iPhone and Android apps that mobile fans can access to connect to US Open action in real-time from around the world. Off the court, IBM's analysis of the US Open action will extend to the social media arena by determining the Twitterverse's favorite male and female players.
IBM is applying advanced analytics software to millions of public tweets generated throughout the tournament to assess which players are the social fans' favorites. The IBM Social Sentiment Index will analyze buzz around the US Open, providing a better understanding of fan sentiment.
The analysis will also illustrate how analytics technology can identify important and otherwise non-obvious trends, to help businesses make better decisions about how to connect with customers.
If you're on-site at the Tennis Center, IBM has built the IBM Game Changer Interactive Wall, which extends many of the USOpen.org and mobile app features, providing greater insight into the US Open, both on- and off-court using the power of analytics.
Fans will be able to interact with the wall to access live scores, match analysis, and data visualizations from the IBM Social Sentiment Index analysis, as well as information about local weather and its effect on player nutrition, hydration, and more.
Broader applications of analyzing action on the courts
Delivering insights into what's happening on the courts at the US Open requires an ability to capture and analyze each serve, volley, and point. The same kind of analytics technologies that IBM is using to deliver insights to tennis fans, players, coaches, media, and sports event organizers are being used to monitor babies in prenatal wards, help police departments prevent crime, and enable financial services firms to improve customer service.
Rick Singer, vice president of Sports Sponsorship Marketing for IBM, said:
Big Data is impacting so many aspects of sporting events, that it's no longer a stretch to say that it is changing the way fans watch and enjoy sports. Whether on the court or in the board room, Big Data is being leveraged to achieve similar goals, such as keeping operations up and running seamlessly, having accurate data readily available for quick decision making, and improving productivity.
A predictive slam
One of the most insightful features of USOpen.org is IBM's SlamTracker. Based on predictive analytics technology, it leverages historical and real-time match data to deliver a better understanding of what's going on during a match.
SlamTracker's "Momentum" feature maps player momentum throughout a match in real-time, visualizing key turning points such as aces and winning shots, allowing fans to interact with the data to learn more about why a player is winning. In addition, SlamTracker's "Keys to the Match" feature analyzes seven years of historical Grand Slam data to determine the top three things a player must do in order to perform well in a specific match.
Serving the US Open Web traffic appetite
During the two-week tournament, USOpen.org transforms into a massive, data-hungry environment that demands unhindered access to accurate and reliable content to serve the demands of millions of tennis fans. Each year, IBM helps the USTA expand its infrastructure to meet these demands and then scale back to support regular operations following the tournament.
This elasticity is made possible by the IBM SmartCloud, which enables the rapid creation and dynamic allocation of resources while offering transparent and real-time access by a multitude of devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and televisions.
This cloud environment -- powered by IBM servers and storage in three geographically dispersed locations virtualized as one -- ensures continuous availability and scalability required to support such a high profile event. The benefits include reduced costs and reliable operations.
You can go here to learn more about how IBM is helping the US Open tap into big-data to transform the fan experience.
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