Rapid digitalisation seems to be a trend in every industry. It has transformed event the sport industry, especially football/soccer – the sport № 1 on the planet.
As in the other businesses, by digital transformation, football clubs optimise their logistics and financial processes, but mainly it affects its interactions with its fans and players. Moreover, it is very important to emphasize that not only on – field performances of teams matter, but also their capacity to create a strong brand identity and awareness. Team supporters are principal customers of any sport organization, and their loyalty and good relationship are crucial for a business of this sort. Today fans cooperate with their favourite soccer teams in different ways: by tweeting about their heroes, monitoring news on social media, following players on Instagram, etc. These mediums can be used by clubs to create a special ecosystem with their fans and direct their marketing instruments straight on aficionados. Leading football clubs are creating special mobile applications for their supporters with video streaming, games and players’ statistics, surveys, etc. Clubs, tracking data of their fans, have a god opportunity to develop their content, communicate more effectively with target customers, and increase brand loyalty. Moreover, applying big data analyses, for example, analysing correlations between weather data and ticket demand, will help clubs with pricing strategies, as to when it will be worthwhile to lower or increase expenses for marketing campaigns and indicate the ideal time to offer ticket promotions.
Digital transformation impact how soccer clubs interact with their main assets – the players. The process of searching and buying players is not easy, it almost always requires great amount of time, detailed analysis of statistics and scouts’ involvement. “Moneyball” paradigm is a good example of the importance of big data and necessity of profound analytics in the future of such a sport. Therefore, usage of new technologies, software, efficient processing of information are now activities that are inevitable in terms of optimization of this process. Special modern devices such as hi-tech cameras, sensors and wearables can track every aspect of the performance of a particular player and form the basis for statistical data, which then in turn can be used by managers (for assessing the players’ performance) and coaches (for increasing or declining work-loads and developing training programs). In this field we can give the following examples: famous English golf-player Luke Donald and former football player, Luis Figo developed the Network90 (“LinkedIn for football players”), FIFA created the “FIFA Transfer Matching System” – global online platform to govern trans-border transfers and presenting the statistics of transfers for obtaining transparency in the world of football and make interaction between clubs and sport associations more effective; innovations like Google Glass are being utilized for data analysis of sportsmen trainings.
New technologies are also applied in the sphere of sport medicine, for avoiding possible injuries. Specialist companies such as Zephyr, Omegawave, Firstbeat and Catapult developed special sensors that contribute to collection and analysis of biometrical data and record physical activity of sportsmen. These gadgets collect information and deliver detailed assessment, that can be very helpful for preparation of individual plan of exercises for a particular soccer player.
Summing up, and referring to a “PwC report about digital transformation in sport sector” ( https://www.pwc.ch/en/publications/2016/Pwc_publication_sport_footbal_digital_transformation_aug2016.pdf ) we can infer that in the sport industry and especially in football sector, the following main drives set the pace: need of use of more analytics, the admission of digital means for networking, communication frameworks of football clubs, advanced digitalisation of the market.
And for staying on top, club managers ought to concentrate the strategic development of their organisations on the following key aspects: accumulate financial resources to advance their digital transformation and to control their fan base and actively interact with it.