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Eyes on the prize: Learnings from sport – part 1

March 27, 2019

Srini CR   

Chief Digital Officer

When it comes to how we work and play, technology is turbocharging our lives. In no sector is the G-force more apparent than it is in sports – where work and play combine to create the perfect digital storm.

It might surprise you to learn that the sports industry is the most innovative. In North America – home to the world’s biggest domestic sports market – sports revenue is set to leap by 47 per cent in just ten years, by 2021. That equates to a casual $25bn, in one market alone. And digital technologies provide a crucial pivot.

Show Me the Money!

The proliferation of the Internet and connected devices have created a disruptive landscape. For leaders in the sporting industry, this has meant adapting quickly to ensure that they are keeping pace with new trends – and keeping fans’ eyes on the ball. They have embraced digital technologies, enabling the essential agility that comes with digital transformation, to create a momentous tipping point in sports revenue. The opportunity for growth is immense and technology is powering it. But this doesn’t just have to be a success story for sport – other industries should take note, too.

We recently commissioned an industry report called “Show Me the Money!” which features expert contributions from some of the major players in the sports ecosystem. Experts from HSBC, Formula 1, European Tour and DAZN shared their insights around the commercial opportunities that digital platforms offer for sports. Apart from providing an essential roadmap for the digital transformation of sports, it gives other industry leaders a clear view of how these organisations got it so right.

So, how exactly is the sports industry getting the top score? And what key lessons can other industries take away in order to step-up their digital transformation journeys, ensuring they are best placed to adapt and grow?

Attract new audiences and stay relevant

Every business, no matter the sector, needs to foster their existing customer base and attract new customers in order to grow, bring in new revenue streams and remain relevant in their market. In the sports industry, this has been achieved through the introduction of new platforms and formats to engage fans, which make sports more accessible for new audiences and keep existing fans loyal. It’s a similar story for retail businesses seeking to make more meaningful connections with consumers. Customers must be enticed to spend time with your brand through a multitude of avenues. The online experience is key to this, along with the seamlessness of that experience across multiple platforms. In the case of a retailer, mobile apps must interact with the in-store experience effectively to offer the best possible level of customer service and personalisation. Doing so ensures that loyal customers return, and new customers immediately understand the value in engaging with your brand.

Get personal and connect with your customers

The “Show Me the Money!” report highlights the sports industry’s great success at connecting with customers on an emotional level, leveraging digital platforms, to build brand loyalty. There are great examples of sports such as F1 that have embraced engaging with their customers, i.e. fans, through social media to build a closer, emotive connection with the sport.

In doing so, new streams of revenue open up, as audiences’ passion grows and they are more likely to pay to see a match live at a venue or via a streaming platform. They may even go that one step further and purchase the newest merchandise. While sport may have a natural advantage – as an organically emotionally charged industry – similar tactics can be replicated and implemented for industries at the other end of the spectrum, too.

For example, the financial services industry might seem to be an unlikely case in point – but it is. Being ‘human’, accessible, quick to address and even anticipate customers’ needs is essential for this sector. Utilising advanced disruptive technologies such as AI and predictive analytics can enable this and ensure customer satisfaction and stickiness.

Data and AI-enabled analytics can also be invaluable in other ways – for example as a business is looking to expand into new geographies and establish a new customer base there. Having insights into the lay of the land, how people want to engage with brands on a human level, prior to putting communication strategies into effect can be vastly aided by these technologies. AI-powered tools can be programmed to assist human workers with an understanding of a new culture and adapting to it in a frictionless manner, enhancing customer engagement from day one.

In part two of this blog, I will discuss further on what businesses can learn from sports about digital transformation.

Read more about how sports are leveraging digital platforms to grow commercially in our “Show Me the Money!” industry report.


Tata Communications was the Official Connectivity Provider of Formula 1® between 2012 and 2019. Tata Communications was also the Official Managed Connectivity Supplier to Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, and Official Digital Transformation Partner to ROKiT Williams Racing until the end of the 2019 season.