The Australian Open: Serving up streaming analytics in the cloud

Manager of Portfolio Strategy, IBM

We once again find ourselves embarking on a new year, which means a time for New Year’s resolutions and the Australian Open Tennis Championships 2016. For the athletes preparing for this grand slam event, the very recent end-of-year 2015 holidays didn’t include rest and relaxation. Instead, the world’s top tennis athletes will descend on Melbourne Park January 18–31, 2016.

As the athletes complete the rigors of last-minute training, fans are making travel plans to experience the tournament in person. Australia welcomes hundreds of thousands of tennis fans to Melbourne and Olympic Parks every year for this annual tournament. At the same time, IBM is preparing to host millions of fans from around the world when they arrive at the tournament’s website to turn to digital channels for catching the latest scores, statistics, player insights and breaking news.

Taking the Open to the cloud

The 2016 version of the Australian Open website capitalizes on the IBM Bluemix platform to build on the work done during the 2015 tournament. The primary needs for speed and reduced costs motivated the move to an all-cloud experience on Bluemix. The requirements demanded reduced capital acquisition costs and highly efficient procurement cycles. Bluemix offers a way to consume and integrate services digitally instead of physically.

Traffic on the Australian Open website is expected to exceed 14 million unique views and 57 million page visits. The design behind the scenes uses streaming analytics to pull data streams from many different sources that capture game play, public sentiment and data from news feeds. The data is analyzed using advanced techniques such as natural-language processing provided with the streaming analytics service and then stored using Bluemix Object Storage.

This solution handles load distribution based on predefined business logic, and automatic failure is available to help ensure an always-on experience for fans. The end result is a consumable dashboard that shows player popularity and overall sentiment and is updated dynamically based on activities on and off the court.

Building on precedent Australian Open isn’t the first worldwide sporting event to use IBM solutions. IBM cloud solutions have been used at The Championships, Wimbledon and the Olympic Games. To make sporting events unforgettable, IBM personalizes experiences for fan engagement at any time on any device.

Of course, we recognize that most clients don’t manage large-scale sporting events. If your business isn’t a sport but has similar goals, how can these cloud and analytics solutions work for your organization whether it practices in finance, healthcare or retail? And how can these solutions work for emerging startup businesses in other industries?

The answer is using Bluemix for creating the ultimate client experience in 24/7/365 solutions that can turn prospects into diehard fans. For example, you can create an application that shows sentiment in the business moment and delivers dynamic offerings based on data streams such as weather and location data as well as pulling in historical transaction data. Here are a few examples of services built for the Australian Open that you can use in your organization: 

  • Where they are – Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled on their mobile devices, fans can opt in to share their location. Imagine how you might change your offers if you know that your clients are on a vacation or business trip?
  • Where the crowds are – Using data obtained through Wi-Fi–enabled device signals, fans can see where the biggest crowds are and quickly find the most popular spots. With this kind of service, you can make sure you know the locations of your clients and prospects.
  • Social buzz – Know popular Instagram spots, Twitter stats and to respond to clients on social media and create community engagement promotions such as selfie contests.
  • Court-by-court insights – A map provides glowing courts to indicate where matches are currently underway, enabling fans to decide where to go. More importantly, they can click on each court to see real-time court data such as scores and stats, social sentiment about that match and player bios. Whether your court is an operating room, a retail store or an online forum, you can make it come alive with personalized interaction. 

If you want to learn more about these solutions, their lead architects will be hosting a Google+ hangout on January 14, 2016. In addition, a series of blogs from these experts is planned to be published on the Bluemix website. And be sure to explore streaming analytics in the Bluemix cloud.