Pretty much everyone in sport is asking themselves this question:

‘How do I come out of COVID…?’

The smart ones are adding some detail:

‘How do I take advantage of the current opportunity and appetite for change and growth?’

We’ve all seen first-hand that actually, major change can happen quickly – in a month, in a week, in a day. Recently in Adelaide, in a few hours! We can implement new systems and processes quickly and relatively easily. Further, quite sophisticated systems are actually ready to go and can substantially improve service and engagement levels while there are less people on the ground to make it happen.

To achieve this means taking advantage of the factors that can be controlled and minimising risks on the way through. Earlier this week, we conducted a Roundtable with a range of clients and prospects on how they intend to do this and what the next year to three years is going to look like across professional and community sport.

What we’re hearing…

Some key trends and learnings came out of this. Interestingly, they have also been points of conversation in nearly every discussion I’ve had with people across our industry in the past few months:

  1. People and organisations are now time poor. There are less people to do more work and leaders are looking to technology to make themselves and their organisations more efficient. In addition, COVID has made them realise that they need to be smarter with resources – there are not many sports businesses that haven’t been de-stabilised in some way because of COVID. Many have expressed to me that they know technology could and should be used better, but they’re not quite sure what to do and where to start.
  2. Nearly all the participants told us that over the last three-to-five years their organisations have ‘invested’ in siloed technology. This has meant multiple platforms and solutions, each designed to fix a specific issue or address a small challenge within their business. This has led to a confusing array of solutions, with data held in numerous locations. While it solves a problem for the specific person or area of the business, it creates much bigger problems (like messy communication and lack of insight about clients) across the business.
    One of our clients recently told us that the worst thing about marketing conferences was that team members would always come back with three or four new apps or pieces of technology that they ‘had to have’. This ‘Tech Bling’ invariably meant siloed ‘solutions’. We saw a map with well over a hundred different apps and pieces of technology that were used in the organisation when he started –  now substantially reduced…
  3. Nearly everyone we speak to is seeking to deliver a customer-centric system across the entire organisation. Their desire is to best utilise communication, be efficient and deploy resources in the best way possible. This has been difficult particularly where the siloed approach outlined above has been the modus operandi within a business for a long time.
  4. Invariably, managers and staff identified a need for new technology to be simple and easy to implement. In a lot of sports organisations, staff have been furloughed or are no longer with the business. That’s meant that managers are now taking on operational roles and people who don’t have experience in particular processes are being asked to do things that they haven’t done before.

As a result, there’s a genuine concern that staff just don’t have the experience or expertise to operate technology efficiently. This is proving to be a barrier even where businesses are simply seeking to have the basics done without really moving forward onto projects that might have been on their agenda prior to COVID.

 

Where to next?

So, what’s the outcome of all this? Sports businesses have seen in stark reality just how critical good technology is to drive their business forward. At the same time, they’re not always sure where to start, they’re concerned about multiple solutions across the organisation and they’re worried that they’re not going to be able to take their staff with them.

But, there’s a silver lining to what could otherwise be a dark cloud.

There is a very strong desire to overcome these issues because (for the first time that I have experienced after 30 plus years in sport) people have realised that technology is no longer a differentiator – it’s a ticket to the game.

 

What does that mean? Simply that if you don’t have technology driving your business, you’re going to get left behind faster than ever before.

 

This is particularly the case for larger businesses that have enjoyed a degree of dominance because of their size. Small and nimble organisations staffed by the tech generation (those who have grown up with smartphones and other technology) are doing everything in the cloud – and thinking nothing of it.

The double-edged sword is that there’s a strong desire to move forward but a fear that if you don’t do it right, there’s going to be some long-term pain.

One of my own best learnings from this past nine months within an unprecedented environment was something that Charles Sims (Head of Technology from the LA Clippers) told me recently. Charles explained that the best way to move forward is to ensure that the CRM within a business drives everything else. “Don’t chase shiny objects – focus on the foundations & the rest will come”. If all data comes back through one source and is utilised effectively in a CRM then many problems can be solved. This alone will ensure that there is focus and a really strong and robust platform to build on.

 

Building for the future (and holding COVID at bay)

To this end, one of the challenges for 2021 is how to track athletes, coaches, volunteers, staff, partners, and fans coming to games and being around the organisation.

SportsRM has a simple deployment to address this issue head-on. One that all our clients should consider. It’s also a great way for those wanting to experience the power of SportsRM can use to ‘dip their toe in the water’.

For organisations looking to use COVID as an opportunity to build fan engagement and have deeper and more meaningful relationships, this is a great solution. All of the initial contacts within an organisation can be brought into a SportsRM deployment. We then create assets, products, and events across the season regardless of where these are located, the timing, and the size.

The interaction is managed through a single or multiple portals which can be utilised by each team (or area of an organisation) to check-in and manage attendance and interaction.

SportsRM functionality allows for multiple portals (thousands are possible) for a single deployment. This ensures that all data is kept in one location and the ‘golden record’ can be maintained across the organisation. This will enable contract tracing and can track the person through the organisation. A mobile ticket can be created allowing for branding and content to be delivered to end-users.

SportsRM can generate barcodes or they can be imported from another system and then tracked back to that system. The barcodes can be distributed across all venues and enable each one to manage the scanning of tickets from their own scanners and track access.

This might seem like a complex process, but from a technological perspective, it’s actually relatively easy to implement. It is also a viable solution for those wanting to use COVID as a stepping stone, as opposed to simply dealing with it.

Confused about how to deal with the myriad of COVID related issues in front of you? Unsure about how to proceed? Need advice on the way to move forward?

I wouldn’t say that salvation is on its way…

…however, we can help.

Give us a call and we can talk through this solution and how that might be the start of a much better technology journey for your business and for you, personally.

 

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