Disruption of Sport

In sport, disruption can come from several sources including:

  • Outside of the organisation from other industries – Uber, the online taxi service or airbnb the online accommodation service could change the dynamics of existing sport partnerships. For example, NFL’s SuperBowl 2015 partnership with Uber marked a changing of the guard in terms of event transport preferences; online work platforms such as Upwork and fiverr can displace traditional in-house, non-core activities, such as graphic design, translation and copywriting services since these activities can be accessed without the overhead of employee costs.

See Reading 1

  • Where a new competitor comes between you and your audience. Consider how Apple, a tech company that owns no music, has totally transformed the music industry. Are fantasy or e-sports getting in between you and your fans (or potential fans) or are other sources of leisure and entertainment, fueled by digital innovation, threatening your sports own popularity?

See Reading 2

  • Disruption can also come from within the organisation itself which could be fueled by what competitors are doing. Sport businesses need to adopt a fan-centric model that embraces digital capabilities to bring them closer to fans at all stages of their interaction and participation. Also, if another club, team or federation adopts a new technology or means of engagement then what are you own business choices? Without a digital age vision and strategy, decision making is complicated and reactive.

See Reading 3

Disrupted Sport

We can consider sport as perhaps the most disruptive of all non tech industries. As such, sport is cast into a range of digital roles, including as:

Software Developer
For growth and competitive advantage in core areas such as developing the fan experience, on-field performance and event operations, sport businesses have to innovate with software – e.g. digital platforms and apps – to meet their specific requirements. Tailored solutions are needed since off-the-shelf solutions don’t provide proprietary advantage, nor is the killer app or platform rarely available without innovation driven from within the business.

Experience Provider
For sport businesses it’s no longer just simply about delivering a product or service it’s about providing fans and members with digital tools so that they can tailor their own experience (hence the need to be a software developer).

Media Publisher
Social media has minimised barriers to entry for organisations to publish content so just about every brand is now publishing their own digital content. In sport, due to the demand that fans have for engaging with their team or event, businesses have evolved to the point where they are now media publishers, often with largely in-house teams of text, image and video content producers. With the publishing bar being set so low, the teams that have the highest levels of engagement are the most creative and contextually relevant for their community. To highlight how involved sport is with social media, more than 50% of all Twitter posts are about sport. Sport businesses can’t simply participate in the conversation; they need to lead their community.

Digital Retailer
Sport organisations may only have a single event, membership program or a once a week game in which to maximise revenue. Therefore, businesses are now cast in the role of digital retailer to maximise revenues. The best digital retail solutions are also the best experience providers e.g., apps and beacons that allow fans to upgrade their seat and order online, are also the same tools that enable fans to create their own experience, i.e., connectivity and game-day apps. Providing fans with a compelling experience is key to generating revenues (rather than gouging fans through their loyalty).  The NFL, and its teams, are pioneering this strategic approach.

Data Aggregator
The demand that fans have for team, league or event insights is far different than any other industry. Consumers aren’t interested in the behind-the-scenes data of making a car, coffee or hotel room for example. However, fans crave data from inside sports four walls and the business is responsible for packaging insights and analytics as entertainment. Getting data into a manageable format to entertain fans, inform participants, manage performance or understand individual’s is a fundamental challenge that all sport organisations need to address.

All of this adds up to the business case for any and all sports organisations to lead their own digital transformation efforts.

Moving On

We will now move on to exploring how the five forces of digital disruption have shaped the digital economy and what that means for business and the sports industry. These are:

  1. The Internet of Things
  2. Mobile computing
  3. Cloud computing
  4. Digital and Social Media
  5. Big Data and Analytics