The four pillars of Digital Transformation in the world of sport

In recent years, professional teams in the world of sport have started to use different technologies to monitor the performance of athletes, improve their physical condition and develop products that allow them to improve on their rivals when competing, which has played a very important role in the sector. Vector ITC and Softtek Company, an international digital and technology group, analyse the four pillars of Digital Transformation in the world of sport, which are part of their latest report Digital Transformation in Sports.

This adoption is providing teams with tools to optimally manage stadiums, athletes, and their relationship with fans. The main objective is to develop and implement services that meet the highest quality standards and make the management of all processes involved in the provision of sporting events more efficient.

For this reason, teams have begun to invest more than ever in digital tools related to the analysis of user and athlete behaviour, which allows them to anticipate their needs inside and outside the stadium through Artificial Intelligence, data analytics and Machine Learning, and by monitoring the evolution of KPIs focused on customer relations. Based on all this, the current value of the sports technology market was valued at more than $11.7 billion in 2020.

Aside from the implementation of new technologies, the sports industry has also experienced a generational shift in consumer habits. Young fans are no longer just looking to watch the game, whether on TV or in the stadium, but also to enjoy other types of services. Such is the importance of digital transformation in fan engagement that, according to Statista, 47% of users started going to the stadium to watch matches of sports they did not usually follow, due to their interest in new technologies applied to sport.

The four foundations of Digital Transformation in the world of sport:

  • Fan engagement: is the fan and sponsor relationship management strategy implemented by sports clubs. Here, new technologies play a major role, as the key to this management philosophy lies precisely in adjusting to the social and demographic changes experienced by the fans. The sporting experience is transforming from the fan’s point of view, becoming both a physical and virtual reality, and of course omnichannel.
  • Operational excellence: Stadiums and venues for large events are areas that are often densely populated, creating a challenge for organisers in tasks such as crowd management and security for all event attendees. Technology has provided new security and crowd control tools that can be used by security operators of large venues in multiple aspects such as tracking, broadcasting, network systems, digital signage, building management or location-based services. The introduction of such systems aims to create a safer and more familiar environment for any type of event within stadiums.
  • Stadium optimisation: Stadiums and large entertainment venues have been transformed into smart buildings that combine different technologies to improve the way people interact with the facilities. The aim of a Smart Infrastructure is to be able to increase the efficiency and sustainability of buildings. In this sense, the raison d’être of smart stadiums is to improve the operations involved in staging an event, as well as to improve stadium security, increase customer loyalty and add value to the teams’ brand.
  • Team performance: Technology is a tool that allows stakeholders around sport such as athletes, coaches, promoters, sponsors, among others, to make decisions and improve the performance of athletes based on real-time data and statistics. For example, there is software to monitor training sessions and analyse the impact on players’ health, so that injuries can be minimised and recovery times can be controlled at elite level, among many other functions.

The multiple tools applied to these four main areas are already a growing reality and it is estimated that their use in 2027 will be 70% higher. Given the versatility of functions and the ability to customise innovative techniques, the benefits are manifold, as AI has been a major breakthrough both in terms of customer satisfaction and in everything related to the efficiency of sports facilities and the equipment and training of athletes.

However, the implementation of digital transformation still has a major obstacle for sports clubs, namely budgeting, as these tools require large investments to implement. Nevertheless, there is still room for innovation in the various uses of data analytics and automation, so it is to be expected that new players will soon join the digital transformation in the sports industry.

“The accelerating technological transformation, and its various competitive advantages, has penetrated professional sports over the past few years. Professional league teams around the world have begun to allocate a portion of their budgets to invest in technology tools that help them improve not only the sporting performance of their players, but also their financial statements, customer services and facility management systems. Good connectivity of sports facilities, an omni-channel experience in the stadium itself, and a smart way to move around the stadium, will be key criteria for fans to consider in their decision to go to one game or another,” says Rafael Conde, Director of Digital & Innovation at Vector ITC.