By Geoff De Weaver CEO & Founder of Touchpoint Entertainment Inc.


The winning strategy in Sports Marketing today is combining, Big Data and Analytics with a huge creative idea. Importantly, big data provides the insights and transparency while fans and sports fanatics the enthusiasm and momentum.

Importantly, big data plays a critical role for allocating, attributing and communicating to the right people, with the right message and at the right time, through the right combination of ‘touchpoints’. For marketers and businesses today, big data delivers deeper insights, less guessing and more precision in predicting consumer behavior, a gain in marketshare and use at global scale.

If you’ve been watching the: NFL, NBA, FIFA, Formula 1, MLB, tennis, NHL or even sailing – you’ve already seen enhanced fan experiences, higher level performances and much smoother operations for all sports using big data, sensors and analytics. Some of you may have read Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, on how big data and new information was used to outsmart conventional wisdom in recruiting new baseball players. (Certainly worth a read in checking out how theory translates into winners!)

What is Big Data?

Big data is a term that has been thrown around marketing and business circles over the last ten plus years. Unfortunately the term big data itself, is defined in many different ways by folks globally. However, as a Marketer, I define big data as the massive volumes of ‘data sets’, found outside the firewall of any brand, sporting team or organization. These data sets are often very large, so while collecting them and making sense out of them makes sense, gleaning useful insights can be very challenging!

Gartner, Inc., a research and advisory firm providing information technology related insights defines Big Data as:

‘Big Data is High Volume, High Velocity, and/or High Variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization’ – (Gartner, 2012)

While, Forrester Research defined Big Data in a blog post as,

“…measured in terms of volume, velocity, and variety, big data represents a major disruption in the business intelligence and data management landscape, upending fundamental notions about governance and IT delivery. With traditional solutions becoming too expensive to scale or adapt to rapidly evolving conditions, companies are scrambling to find affordable technologies that will help them store, process, and query all of their data. Innovative solutions will enable companies to extract maximum value from big data and create differentiated, more personal customer experiences.”

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Note: DATA is the new Competitive Advantage. The above chart courtesy IBM Investor Briefing. Look at the size of the market and opportunity. In 2017 data spend will be $268 B.

Use of Data and Technology
Advances in Sports technology now allows for better precision and clearer analysis of all aspects of a game or sport. It’s also being adapted for the use of referees, umpires, players and coaches across all levels of competition. Importantly, there are now more resources available to organize and make data understandable.

Athletes, boats and cars are now ‘wearing’ technologies that constantly emit data that can be analyzed. As a result of this ever emerging and evolving technology, it is becoming more and more important to value this data. While we know that technology can give athletes a ‘winning edge’, what does it actually mean for the consumer?

It’s really quite straight-forward, if an athlete or team wins – then they have the ability to pull in more spectators, supporters and financial backing. In many sports, an increased winning potential can generate tens of millions of dollars each year so it’s really big business! Using the big data that is now available allows teams and sporting organisations to deliver and enhance the wants, needs and desires of their fans/consumers by satisfying their wants and needs. As the old adage goes, ‘Everyone loves a winner!’

In terms of sports consumers, the way that data is used and collected is slightly different. However, it is important to remember that Sport doesn’t have the same value and meaning for individual consumers, it is highly variable. This means that data needs to be collected that is specific to individual consumers in order to target each one individually. Big data provides a whole new dimension to the terms ‘target marketing’ and segmentation!

While this type of marketing might sound easy, if it really was, all companies and organisations would be doing it! However, Data analysis is expensive and requires a hands-on, committed approach and, with so much data available it is difficult to channel and give meaning to what is actually being examined. In the context of sport, certain data utilization and application produces better results than others.

Sports facts and statistics were once the realm of the guys who couldn’t make the team: tech geeks, hackers, programmers, note-takers, pencil-pushers and nerds who watched and recorded every swing, shot, catch, miss and pass of every player throughout the season.

Five Key Benefits of Big Data in Sport and Business:

Big data can deliver a huge competitive advantage, especially in these five areas:

  • Public Relations (PR): Use big data to validate and reinforce a story, brand or company, there is data available on every topic, you just need to look
  • Social Media Brand Monitoring & Listening: Keep an eye on what’s being said about your brand in social media. It’s a great way to identify promoters, detractors, moods, emotions, etc. On social media, people are expressing more positive (35%) sentiment than negative (25%). 
  • Social Media Engagement & Loyalty: One of the best ways to build a community is to engage with the people talking about your brand. Big data helps you find those people.
  • Crisis Communications: Determine the scale of the problem early on and help understand what people are saying. This will help you determine the best course of action.
  • Market Signals: Use big data to research before a product launch. What people are saying can be helpful in developing positioning, making product decisions and get an advanced indication of success.

Last week, I was in San Diego attending the US Sailing’s Leadership 2016 Forum. I was also pleasantly surprised and excited to meet, Dennis Conner, the American yachtsman, known as “Mr. America’s Cup”. Over his sailing career he won the bronze medal at the 1976 Olympics, two Star World Championships, and four wins in the America’s Cup. He also provided a great deal of insight into the many aspects that impact performance in sailing.

The US Sailing Leadership Forum also offered an experience for all types of sailors to connect on important and relevant issues regarding all aspects of the sport of sailing. Leaders from sail training and education, yacht club and sailing organization management, race officials, and industry professionals met and learned from one-another in the surroundings of this spectacular Southern California venue.

But it was really great to see, and hear, that US Sailing is taking a New Tack to an ‘Old Sport’. While, competitive sailing has been around for a very long time, turning sailing into a fast-paced spectator sport and tapping into the millennial market is providing a new challenge; one that is now driving US Sailing to take a deep dive into big data and analytics with SAP.

Watch this 2 minute video from SAP to see how they are now helping sailors use big data in Europe. This video provides a great overview on how SAP enabled all boats competing in the annual Travemuende Week regatta to track and use sailing data via the analysis provided by their SAP technology. Germany’s second largest sailing event saw more than 200 races, with 1,000 competitors sailing 250,000 nautical miles and generating more than 50 million single GPS data fixes.

Click here:

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The power of big data in tracking boats, the course, the tides and winds.

US Sailing ran a session entitled ‘SAP Sailing Technology Partnership’ which was fascinating to attend. It clearly illustrated the importance of big data while competing in boat racing. SAP also identified customer and boating solutions to help:

  1. Regatta organizations – simplifying the running of races and regatta’s
  2. Sailors – to help analyse performance and to optimise real-time strategies for tides, winds, competition and more
  3. Fans and Spectators – to give global access and provide greater understanding of racing
  4. Media and Commentators to provide accurate, real-time and insightful analysis.

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Sailors can now brave the wild winds with a bit of help from cloud computing, big data and analytics.

Some of the benefits that sailors globally can now achieve now include:

  1. Visualizing live and real-time data of the courses they are competing on, which enables easier course laying
  2. Live result capturing and transmission from finish boat to leader-board of official scorekeeper
  3. Provides start line analytics
  4. Allows sailors to link tracking to a race and to utilize GPS capabilities of an iPhone and smart phone to track sail boat(s).
  5. Allows sailors or yacht clubs to track performances
  6. Simplifies handling results more quickly and more accurately
  7. Importantly, allows global-spectators to watching tracking of races in real-time.
  8. Grow the sport of sailing globally as a popular sport and activity.

Bottom-line, in all sports, whether the NBA, NFL, Formula 1, Soccer or even sailing, to be competitive and have a competitive advantage today and tomorrow, Big Data and analytics will be the game changer.

I know, like in business, that yesterday’s winner is not necessarily tomorrow’s, especially when the winds of change are prevailing in the Age of Disruption and Innovation. Make sure you transform today and don’t get digitally disrupted tomorrow.


Stay passionate and win the day!



More About Geoff De Weaver:

Geoff De Weaver Oct 2015

Hailing originally from New York; Geoff De Weaver is the globally experienced entrepreneur, global marketer, technology disruptor, trend hunter, transformation expert, author, keynote speaker and CEO of Touchpoint Entertainment Inc.

Feel free to get in touch with Geoff for further information:





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