Data talks: 10 things to consider

Data and how to implement more data-driven applications in European stadiums was the subject of several presentations during our ESSMA Summit in January. It’s a fact that the overall majority of stadiums has either already made investments or is planning on taking the step. But what choices to make?

ESSMA has gathered some relevant insights on the matter to share with you:

1) Data should either be a vital part of the strategy or should be absent

The decision to take data into account whilst developing a stadium should be a general decision. Being more data driven impacts a lot of departments within an organization and therefore needs the full support of the management team. If not, there will be no added-value.

2) Look before you leap

The most important advice we heard from several clubs is not to rush into data. Be sure what the goal is and what you want to reach whilst implementing more data driven applications and technology.

3) Various advantages to switching to 5G

VfL Wolfsburg is the first Bundesliga Club having a 5G network in the stadium. The implementation of 5G means huge capacity, ultra-low latency as well as reliability by network slicing. All positive evolutions!

4) 5G opens the door to a new level of fan experience

Once a 5G network is operational in a stadium, you can really upscale the fan experiences. Hyper personalisation, such as BSC Young Boys, who send each season ticket holder a personalised review of their attendance at the end of the season. Or even a service call from their favourite player for first year season tickets holders.From a technological perspective, you can offer a lot of cool experiences. Match data on your phone while watching the game in the stadium, match statistics of your favorite player on your phone, heat maps of the field, everything is possible.

5) Don’t expect results soon

The general tendency is that it takes 2 to 3 years to generate viable data, on which you can base relevant business development conclusions. Don’t rush into conclusions too fast, this can have several undesired consequences. Nevertheless, data gives you the opportunity to build strategic focus segments in your fan base. By focusing on them and thoroughly adapting your communication, you can raise the bar for your ticket sales, as did BSC Young Boys.

6) Gradually launch new products based on data driven insights gained by data

Data provides you with relevant insights on new possibilities to enhance your stadium and fan experience. The key is to gradually launch new services such as automated ticketing, chatbots or experience pillars.

7) Look for new insights in data, not confirmation

Don’t expect all generated data to support the current ideas within the management team. Prepare to be surprised and react in an unbiased way. Data can contradict certain ideas everyone believes to be true. The key is to take the leap. Feyenoord, VfL Wolfsburg, Groupama Arena and BSC Young Boys, have seen good results of concepts only data indicated to.

8) Rest assured: possibilities in data only enhance stadium experience and don’t weaken it

VfL Wolfsburg, for instance, was first a bit hesitant to implement new experiences. They feared the audience would only be looking on their phones and screens. Nevertheless, that was not the case. Availability of statistics and game-insights only seem to enhance the experience, not diminish it.

9) 5G drives efficient digital transformation

5G is a trend that goes beyond leisure and fun. 500 Million 5G users are expected in the coming 3 years. The technology enables smart life & work everywhere. In stadiums we see some interesting results with the HUAWEI Lampsite Indoor Solution to start 5G implementation.

10) Think beyond fan experience

The majority thinks of data as a tool in new fan experiences. Although this is true, it is not the only purpose data can serve. Groupama Arena learned some valuable lessons on which concerts to organize, based on their data import. This led to successful experiments in multi- usage and concerts of Robbie Williams and Depeche mode for instance.

More on the ESSMA Knowledge Platform

These takeaways are mainly based on the presentations given in the data-driven seminar track at our ESSMA Summit. The sponsor of this specific track was Huawei.

We thank Eike Humpert (VfL Wolfsburg), Edwin Suk (Feyenoord), Balázs Kulin (Groupama Arena) and Daniel Marti & Wanja Gruel (BSC Young Boys) for sharing their knowledge with us.

Want to know more about these insights? Discover all related presentations on our Knowledge Platform.

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