24.04.2015

mSport: mobile transformation opportunities in the world of sport

Image | Jason Mrachina

In 21st-century society being connected has become an indispensable requirement for integration. Mobile transformation, or everything that connectivity, apps and networks can do to improve citizens’ lives, has spread to every field, to varying degrees.  The most traditional ones, like Health and Education, are forced to overhaul their entire paradigms in order to adapt to digital technologies, which, if well regulated, can yield serious benefits.

Sport is not immune from this mobile transformation. With millions of followers and users around the world, both sport practice and sport understood as entertainment offer endless possibilities for companies, organisations and individuals to explore and take advantage of all the opportunities it entails.

On the occasion of the 63rd edition of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell Conde de Godó tennis tournament, IESE Business School organised the prestigious conference “Sport Business Management,” which, now in its 9th year, drew renowned professionals from the world of sport. “Innovation in the organisation of sport events,” “Tennis and the television of the future” and “The future of basketball in Europe” were some of the talks given. Oscar Pallarols, director of the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation’s Smart Living programme, also participated in the event, addressing “The mobile transformation in sport” and analysing the types of mobile opportunities existing in the sphere of sport.

The extension of mobile devices into people’s daily lives has had many effects, above all the generation of bidirectional communications between companies and users. Previously passive elements have now become active, generating offerings intended to deliver value to users, who, in turn, have taken on special importance when it comes to establishing communication strategies. It is now the user who decides what experience he wants to have, in just seconds proclaiming himself a spokesman for that experience on the Web, forcing companies to react quickly.

The Internet’s accessibility, the democratisation of information, the impact of the social networks, real-time transactions and the thousands of applications released are the different tools that mobile technology provides connected users, and professionals in the sport sector must ponder how to exploit all those possibilities. According to Oscar Pallarols: “It is necessary to analyse what mobile technologies can be applied to the field of sport and identify those opportunities that offer an attractive return on investment.”

Sony-Smart-Tennis-Sensor1 Image | Nicee

Hence, during his talk Pallarols set forth these three scenarios: 

The venue

The “smart stadium” is the ideal site for mobile transformation. In them mobile devices can help users to enjoy much more entertaining experiences. Not only can they be used as a second screen for the broadcasting of replays and highlights, but can also function to receive all kinds of offers and value-added services: identification for stadium access, ordering food and drink right from one’s seat, entering parking facilities, access to rankings and scores, the virtualization of contents, customer service, participatory processes… the possibilities are many.

The challenge in this case is to secure the investment sufficient to supply the 100,000 users -who, for 90 minutes, once every 15 days, in the case of football – would connect to the same network. The solution calls for offering premium, value-added services. 

The individual

Applications related to fitness, a practice undertaken to improve the individual’s quality of life and personal well-being, are today capitalised by the major sport brands, which have generated digital elements based on traditional products.

The proliferation and use of all these applications have resulted in, firstly, an increase in access by the individual (today anyone can obtain information that 10 years ago only elite professionals could) and, in addition, a gamification effect: a continuous concern with being better than others.

The potential in this area is clear: in the pursuit of health, the use of fitness apps could help in the development of prevention policies that contribute to push back the age at which chronic diseases are contracted. 

The elite

Elite athletes can incorporate mobile technologies into their daily practice in different situations: during training sessions and while they compete. Mobile technology currently provides precise technical tools capable of improving an athlete’s performance by 1-2%, a percentage sufficient to make a difference. Mobile technologies are also used to study precise movements in some sports, such as swimming, synchronised swimming and diving.

While competing the elite athlete can also make use of technology to improve his results. For example, thanks to the Internet of Things and connected racquets, or through the introduction of synchronised wearables, in the case of team sports.

In short, there are many elements that will facilitate the integration of the mobile transformation in the world of sport, benefitting athletes, entities, companies and citizens.