Wimbledon: Using real-time sports statistics for fan engagement

Client Technical Leader for UK Public Sector, IBM UK Ltd.

In 2015, a new real-time notifications system made an impact on the first day of The Championships, Wimbledon when Lleyton Hewitt hit the 1500th winner of his Wimbledon tennis career. The system pre-warned Wimbledon’s digital and content team of his impending sports statistics milestone. It offered sufficient time to build a tile of richer content to share on social media as soon as the event occurred, breaking news faster than global media organizations.

Increased demand for real-time insight

Wimbledon-using-real-time-sports-statistics_Blog.jpgSince last year’s tournament, I have seen an increase in demand for real-time insight in numerous organizations. Maintaining a current, real-time view of what is happening in the business allows pertinent information to be pushed to those who need to act on it as events unfold. Such information might relate to key performance indicators, highlight a drop off in performance, or trigger and alert that something requires action. In all cases, the user knows something needs to be done now, rather than finding out after the event.

One application of such capabilities is in the prediction and prevention of equipment failures allowing component repair or replacement. This averts outages and leads to a better managed, more resilient service. Another is to optimise and personalise inbound marketing campaigns so that sales are increased and customer service improved during that customer interaction rather than understanding what opportunity you could have taken sometime later.

Having such insight immediately available enables business leaders to make decisions using data rather than relying on gut instinct because no current view is available.


In 2016, one extension we have made to the real-time notifications solution at Wimbledon is to maintain leaderboards. This allows provision of additional insight on the relative performance of players to be provided to Wimbledon’s digital and content team as events unfold in context. It suggests new angles for stories which the team can use to enhance fans’ experience as matches are played.

This extension is an example of the value of maintaining state in real-time applications. More generally, low latency management of massive state has applications that require access to a current picture of the world. Examples using data from the Internet of Things include showing information from devices in context using their locations on a map, and continuous performance monitoring performance from instrumentation.

The volumes of data being ingested and the amount of state that must be managed to support such needs requires distributed processing to scale. State may not fit in local memory and it may be necessary to provide external access to the data. So state must be shared and made accessible from multiple machines. IBM provides a distributed process store toolkit that allows key-value store access to distributed state management systems such as memcached and Redis to meet such needs using IBM Streams.

Data services

Another addition to the notifications solution this year is to provide data services. This allows the notifications to be consumed by multiple applications. In addition to serving Wimbledon’s digital and content team with key match events, we shall also be pushing a selection of the notifications from this system directly to fans. A new match upset card has been added to the push messaging that is already part of the Wimbledon mobile app to present these notifications.

There are two implications of this new capability.   Firstly, we have taken a significant step to measuring the effect of actions taken as a result of specific insight generated by analytics. Secondly, by using data services, we have shown how developers can trial and rapidly assemble new business solutions and get them to market quickly.

Follow your favorite players at this year’s tournament by downloading the Wimbledon mobile app or at

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