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Sports Business 10 Digital Age Responsibilities



Throughout summer, Stephen Bourke, presenter of our "Managing Digital Transformation in Sportonline certificate program will share insights in the form of infographics and blogs on different aspects of the business of sports in disrupted times. 


The term 'digital transformation' can immediately cause confusion - and anxiety!  In the business of sport, digital transformation is less about technology than it is about changing strategy, culture and operations to serve present and future connected fans.


Since the process of digital transformation is a journey, understanding the 'why' of digital transformation is more important for sustained success the 'what' and 'how' of this change management program.


The digital era has changed fan behaviours, expectations and consumption habits very quickly, and more rapidly than teams, leagues and federations have been able to adjust.  The 'Ten Digital Age Responsibilities' model provides a snapshot of those areas that I have observed to have the most profound impact on our industry - whether we recognize them overtly or not.  


All, or some, of these modern realities can be useful for any sports business to consider when addressing the question "Why digitally transform?"


Outlined below are ten guiding principles and responsibilities for successful digital transformation in sports.


10 Digital Age Responsibilities


1. Digital Strategist

As sport organizations pivot on their business model to become digitally-adapted, the first order of business is to re-imagine the mission of the enterprise.  This is typically driven by the need to update the fan experience although it can also be to enhance operational effectiveness, particularly for sports venues.


2. Data Refiner

With ‘data as the new oil and analytics its refinery’ enterprise proficiency with data management is a work-in-progress for the majority of sports businesses – and the broader economy.  Connecting analytics strategy to enterprise objectives and leadership sponsorship of initiatives are needed to ensure purpose and traction.


3. Employer of Choice

The digital era has brought with it the demand for new skill sets particularly in marketing, technology and analytics areas.  New roles place new demand on the organization since attracting and retaining the best talent in new fields is highly competitive.  Digital and social media should also be used to establish the organisation as an employer of digital choice for Millennials and Gen Z. along with a culture that reflects this reality.


4. Experience Provider

Having defined the customer experience vision for connected fans, the challenge is to execute on this strategy.  Collaboration and integrated around digital platforms is challenging leadership to breakdown siloed operations to deliver the seamless customer experience.


5. Community Manager

One of the defining principles of the social business era is that promotions is no longer a one-way broadcast activity from brand to market.  Now it’s about the team reflecting its community of followers through a program of ‘more social and less media’ that shows care and understanding on a personal level that builds relationships rather than transactions.


6. Media Company

Another feature of digital and social media is its ability to create new revenues which range from driving ecommerce to new corporate partnerships which now demand digital access as part of the sponsorship livery.  This is a long play process that needs connection between social goals and business objectives supported by resources to grow followership through innovative and brave content.


7. Digital Retailer

As a media company, the business has to be able to deliver on its brand promises when fans want to invest in their passion for the team.  Memberships, ticketing, merchandising and game day online ordering need to be mobile-first designed and system integrated so that the organization delivers personalized relevance that unlocks further retail value.


8. Open Innovator

The best ideas come from outside of the organization and even from outside of competitors and the sports industry – consider how finance, hospitality and technology innovations have inspired game-day activations.  As well innovating with corporate partners, teams are formalizing their approach to creating new fan value through the hackathons, incubators and accelerators.


9. Ecosystem Manager

Sports organizations now operate multiple digital platforms which may either be owned like their web, app and customer data platforms or third-party like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  This creates the need to ensure that all touchpoints function in a complementary and integrated way for fans and the business alike.


10. Software Company

As Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, observed ‘one day you wake up and you are a software company”.  If a white goods manufacturer is now a software company then It is not hard to envisage how this philosophy is also overtaking sporting organizations given their responsibility to deliver personally relevant experiences to fans.  




The next edition of Managing Digital Transformation in Sport is commencing in September 2018.  Click here to learn more about this program. 


*A C-suite only version ‘Leading Digital Transformation in Sport’ is also available on an expression of interest basis.



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