Serving insight at Wimbledon

Client Technical Leader for UK Public Sector, IBM UK Ltd. move toward engaging with customers in a consistent, relevant and timely manner is a trend I see in many industries that offers organizations opportunities for competitive advantage—particularly those that can engage naturally and with intimacy. The key is to have insight quickly and in context at the point of engagement. 

The same is true in sport. Fan engagement for The Championships, Wimbledon begins June 29, 2015, and is a high priority at the tennis tournament. Using real-time analytics, Wimbledon will be providing unique insights and content directly to fans through its mobile apps and the website. These insights will be in the context of what is currently happening in the matches in play and each fan’s own interests. 

IBM captures data at courtside—as play occurs in real time—for every point played in every match. It analyzes the flow of that data to glean any key events, deviations in play, patterns of play and characteristics of player performance. 

The process works by first filtering out superfluous data so that only relevant data is processed. Then the valuable data is analyzed against information that is stored in Wimbledon’s database containing match statistics that are maintained throughout the tournament. 

The analytics push insight as soon as it is generated in the context of the matches to those members of the Wimbledon team who need it. The goal is to notify team members first with the information on key elements of interest. For example, Andy Murray may hit the 1,500th winner of his Wimbledon career at this year’s tournament, and Wimbledon officials want to capture that moment in real time for fan engagement. 

Consider another example. Suppose that while center court spectators are riveted on the drama of a top seed about to be knocked out of the tournament, a player on court 18 serves the fastest serve in the history of The Championships. In this case, Wimbledon officials can use this insight immediately to distribute this content through its digital channels and enhance the fan experience. 

Capturing the action on the tennis court to analyze data flow in real time and derive relevant data in context to make on-the-spot decisions serves as an analogy for today’s businesses. In the same way the ball is delivered directly to a player on a serve or return, increasing numbers of businesses are collecting data in real time or near-real time, but they are also challenged to know when it is the right time to query a database to glean stored data.

To be competitive within the pace of business today requires vital decision making on data that is fresh, in context and relevant. Determining the right time to query a database is critical. The magnitude of the insight gleaned from data can be diminished when the data is historic or, even worse, out of date. Line of business users need to receive insight that is relevant in the context of what they are working on currently, as soon as enough information is known. 

Pushing analytical insight to end users in this way represents a paradigm shift. Organizations already recognize the value of speed of analytics. The recent IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV) study, Analytics: The speed advantage, takes a look at the real-world use of analytics and how speed is now the primary driver for big data initiatives. Several examples demonstrate how speed of insight impacts business: 

  • Optimizing and personalizing inbound cross-channel marketing such as customer retention offers and customer service
  • Detecting fraud in real time by analyzing financial transactions such as those that occur before a payment is made, before a policy is issued or in claims processing
  • Predicting equipment failures before they happen
  • Performing preventive and real-time asset management
  • Tracking environmental activity and acoustics in time and space to, for example, manage industrial activity and improve healthcare 

These examples serve to demonstrate what is likely to become the norm as growth in data generated by the Internet of Things accelerates. The volume of data that is being generated is outstripping the growth in network bandwidth, and today’s reliance on centralized storage is being called into question. Leading-edge organizations are expected to have the ability to select and analyze high-value data in flight and then act quickly on the resulting insight. 

Speed matters in today’s business climate. Benefit from the excitement of the The Championships, Wimbledon, and download the Wimbledon apps to your mobile or tablet device from the app store to receive rich content that enhances the tournament experience.