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Big Tennis Meets Big Data

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Major sporting events like the U.S. Open are not only exciting to watch and follow, but are also a living lab for how “big data” can translate into big business. This year, the USTA is using predictive analytics and cloud computing to improve the experience for everyone: fans, tennis players, event organizers and broadcasters. USTA’s Phil Green and IBM’s Rick Singer explain how.

I mentioned in my post yesterday that in 2005, as Hurricane Katrina was blowing into the Gulf Coast, that I was flying up to NYC to cover IBM’s involvement in facilitating technology solutions for the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

Well, here we are seven years later, and that partnership continues. Today, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) announced a new round of technologies to help fans become immersed in the 2012 U.S. Open action.

This year, IBM is going to apply predictive analytics, cloud computing, and mobile technology expertise to connect tennis fans, wherever they are, to the action on the courts.

IBM has created a unique digital environment that provides U.S. Open spectators, athletes and media uninterrupted access to data, facts, stats and content via their tablets, smartphones, PCs and other devices.

This enhanced, interactive fan experience uses new technologies that thousands of businesses worldwide are embracing to up their game by uncovering insights from big data.

New iPad App: Streaming Matches

New for this year’s tournament is an iPad app that serves accurate streams of match data, access to live video, highlights and in-depth statistical information.

Enhanced social media features will enable fans to communicate with other fans around the world (but be nice!). The iPad app also delivers an insider’s view of who’s gaining the edge on the court and most likely to win — well before the final score tells the story.

This app complements iPhone and Android apps that mobile fans can access to connect to U.S. Open action in real-time from around the world. Off the court, IBM’s analysis of the U.S. Open action will extend to the social media arena by determining the Twitterverse’s favorite male and female players.

IBM is applying advanced analytics software to millions of public tweets generated throughout the tournament to assess which players are the social fans’ favorites. The IBM Social Sentiment Index will analyze buzz around the U.S. Open, providing a better understanding of fan sentiment.

The analysis will also illustrate how analytics technology can identify important, and otherwise non-obvious trends, to help businesses make better decisions about how to connect with customers.

If you’re on site at the Tennis Center, IBM has built the IBM Game Changer Interactive Wall, which extends many of the USOpen.org and mobile app features, providing greater insight into the U.S. Open, both on- and off-court using the power of analytics.

Fans will be able to interact with the wall to access live scores, match analysis and data visualizations from the IBM Social Sentiment Index analysis, as well as information about local weather and its effect on player nutrition and hydration, and more.

Broader Applications Of Analyzing Action On The Courts

Delivering insights into what’s happening on the courts at the U.S. Open requires an ability to capture and analyze each serve, volley and point. The same kind of analytics technologies that

IBM is using to deliver insights to tennis fans, players, coaches, media and sports event organizers are being used to monitor babies in prenatal wards, help police departments prevent crime and enable financial services firms to improve customer service.

“Big Data is impacting so many aspects of sporting events, that it’s no longer a stretch to say that it is changing the way fans watch and enjoy sports,” said Rick Singer, vice president, Sports Sponsorship Marketing for IBM. “Whether on the court or in the board room, Big Data is being leveraged to achieve similar goals, such as keeping operations up and running seamlessly, having accurate data readily available for quick decision making, and improving productivity.”

A Predictive Slam

One of the most insightful features of USOpen.org is IBM’s SlamTracker. Based on predictive analytics technology, it leverages historical and real-time match data to deliver a better understanding of what’s going on during a match.

SlamTracker’s ‘Momentum’ feature maps player momentum throughout a match in real-time, visualizing key turning points such as aces and winning shots, allowing fans to interact with the data to learn more about why a player is winning. In addition, SlamTracker’s ‘Keys to the Match’ feature analyzes seven years of historical Grand Slam data to determine the top three things a player must do in order to perform well in a specific match.

Serving The U.S. Open Web Traffic Appetite

During the two-week tournament, USOpen.org transforms into a massive, data hungry environment that demands unhindered access to accurate and reliable content to serve the demands of millions of tennis fans. Each year, IBM helps the USTA expand its infrastructure to meet these demands and then scale back to support regular operations following the tournament.

This elasticity is made possible by the IBM SmartCloud, which enables the rapid creation and dynamic allocation of resources while offering transparent and real-time access by a multitude of devices, such as smartphones, tablets and televisions.

This cloud environment — powered by IBM servers and storage in three geographically dispersed locations virtualized as one — ensures continuous availability and scalability required to support such a high profile event. The benefits include reduced costs and reliable operations.

You can go here to learn more about how IBM is helping the U.S. Open tap into Big Data to transform the fan experience.

IBM And Wimbledon: Real-Time Tennis Analytics, Anyone?

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So we’ve witnessed one big golf event for the summer, and now it’s time to turn our attention across the pond to Wimbledon and the All England Club.

At this year’s Wimbledon Championships, IBM SlamTracker will use predictive analytics technology to enable fans to gain deeper insight into the match. SlamTracker is a multifaceted feature of Wimbledon’s digital presence that leverages historical and real-time data to add depth and insight to the Championship experience. The ‘Momentum’ capability maps a match in real-time, visualizing key turning points and their causes (i.e. winners, aces etc.).

IBM has continued its partnership with Wimbledon and is helping bring a vibrant new digital environment to tennis fans this year and the launch of an all new Championships’ website, www.wimbledon.com

Wimbledon.com has been completely re-designed to reflect the heritage and appeal of the event, as well as to offer the tournament’s anticipated 16 million unique website visitors a more creative and immersive experience through improved content, more powerful imagery and intuitive navigation process.

This year’s site is built atop IBM’s SmartCloud infrastructure that can change quickly to meet surges in demand.  It will also be integrating a new online broadcast channel to keep online viewers up to speed on the tennis action, Live @ Wimbledon, which will help complement the IBM SlamTracker scoreboard that provides such rich interactive analytics.

Live @ Wimbledon

Featuring both TV and radio, Live @ Wimbledon will blend live action from around the grounds by dropping into matches at crucial points in play (a stream of one game, per set, per match, per hour) with the off-court color of a day at The Championships.

In addition to the minimum of five hours live broadcasting per day, viewers will be able to enjoy pre-packaged content such as previews and reviews, match highlights and archive footage.

The Live @ Wimbledon radio service will offer an enhanced and improved version of its popular predecessor (Radio Wimbledon), which will be available worldwide online and on the three local FM channels.

“Together with IBM, we’ve created a new website which features increased options for people to personalize their Wimbledon experience,” said Mick Desmond, Commercial Director, at the All England Club, home of The Championships.

“Visitors can follow the progress of their favorite players, view live match play clips of the day’s action, and access scores and results delivered in real-time. We expect this increasingly engaging and personalized online experience to appeal to fans in ever greater numbers.”

IBM SlamTracker

At this year’s Championships IBM SlamTracker will use predictive analytics technology to enable fans to gain deeper insight into the match.

SlamTracker is a multifaceted feature of Wimbledon’s digital presence that leverages historical and real-time data to add depth and insight to the Championship experience.

The ‘Momentum’ capability maps a match in real-time, visualizing key turning points and their causes (i.e. winners, aces etc.).

“Keys to the Match” is a feature within SlamTracker that leverages historical and immediate data to determine the top three things a player must do in order to do well in a specific match.

While SlamTracker is an example of how analytics drives insights for tennis, the uses for businesses are almost infinite. Businesses across multiple industries and geographies can gain insights from large volumes of data and then use that knowledge to choose the best strategies and better predict outcomes.

IBM SecondSight heads to Center Court

Following on from the 2011 pilot on Court 18, this year for the first time on Center Court, IBM will trial player movement tracking.

Following on from the 2011 pilot on Court 18, this year for the first time on Center Court, IBM will trial player movement tracking. With “IBM SecondSight” it will be possible to track the fastest moving players and how their performance changes, set by set and match by match. The system can provide new data that could help players, coaches, commentators and fans alike, as well as add a new dimension to fan’s understanding of the science of tennis.

With IBM SecondSight it will be possible to track the fastest moving players and how their performance changes, set by set and match by match. The system can provide new data that could help players, coaches, commentators and fans alike; and, add a new dimension to fan’s understanding of the science of tennis.

“This year a completely new website takes the understanding and insight into the Wimbledon Championships to a whole new level,” said Alan Flack, IBM’s Programme Executive for Wimbledon. “Using the power of cloud computing each individual data point is integrated instantaneously to deliver a powerful experience for fans, players, coaches and officials alike.”

IBM and Wimbledon

IBM is the Official Supplier of Information Technology and Consultancy to The All England Lawn Tennis Club which stages The Championships. Since 1990, IBM has worked with the All England Club to introduce new technologies that help bring the wealth of real-time data captured during The Championships to life.

IBM sends the captured data around the world in an instant, keeping on-site broadcasters, media and tennis fans everywhere up to date with all the latest scores and statistics. Detailed analytical reports for the players are also available as soon as each match has been completed. During The Championships 2011, the tournament website received 15.6 million unique visitors and 451 million page views.

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