FOOTBALL’S DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: Growth opportunities for football clubs in the digital age


I’m writing this post because I’m pretty interested in the Sport Digital Transformation and especially in Football (soccer). I was going through few reports and specialized articles and I found and exquisite report “Football’s digital transformation” from PwC Sports Business Advisory, International Football Arena and Exozet. I really recommend this analysis because it is a most real picture about what I think is going to happens in the football industry coming years.

Football is special, that much is clear. It is indeed the beautiful game, and its appeal is unrivalled and universal. Yet, in the space of only a few brief years, the extent to which football fans now engage with football has changed significantly. The most notable aspect of this evolution is the rapidly increasing use of social media. The digital transformation – and the technology that fuels it – has enabled fans to interact with their club way beyond the 90 minutes of the actual matches themselves. Indeed, digital ensures that the match never ends. While the fans’ desire for their team to win remains undimmed, digital has now taken centre stage and many fans expect their club to deliver an appealing and connected experience which meets their increasing demand for year-round engagement with the teams they support.

balon de futbolThe future is now. The underlying potential of recent digital developments has prompted us to take a closer look at the future transformation of the football business in the digital age. Since digital will continue to drive change at an unprecedented rate, this publication cannot claim to provide a comprehensive overview of the digital revolution that is transforming football. Instead, we aim to reflect on a number of distinct yet intertwined areas and highlight their potential impact on the way football operations are run today.

DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM: A digitally integrated ecosystem is the answer to growing expectations for personalised and hyper-targeted content.

  • Fans’ expectations will shift from content range to contextual relevance, delivered as and when they desire
  • A digitally integrated ecosystem across business functions is required for a holistic view of each individual fan
  • Adoption of a data culture within a club’s organisation is key to maintaining a competitive edge in the age of highly demanding digital natives

AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO DATA ANALYSIS PROVIDES A HOLISTIC FAN VIEW WHICH WILL PERSONALISE FAN ENGAGEMENT

Football clubs have one unique attribute that places them in a league of their own. They have fans, and fans are not just consumers. The degree of loyalty implicit in being a fan is a tremendous asset to a club, as it increases the number, frequency and intensity of interactions. By leveraging this relationship, clubs have a unique opportunity to gather information on each and every fan. The potential depth and detail of the information they can gather is enormous. Top-flight clubs have incorporated centralised data-analysis solutions consolidating data across their various platforms. They have already started generating a holistic view of their fan base.

Leveraging the wealth of profile information they gather, they are in a position to analyse and cluster their fans in such a multifaceted way as to offer increasingly targeted content and increasingly relevant purchase offers and promotions. This significantly enhances the user experience as it enables fans to get what they want, when and where they want it.

In the years ahead, we believe that as the new generation of digital natives takes over, a completely personalised user experience will gradually become a natural expectation.

Fotball digital transformation_monetisation“Hyper-targeting” will become the new norm for fan engagement: fans will have customised access to the official club application with special content display on their favourite stars, merchandise wish-lists and an interest-based, categorised news section. Looking beyond sports, Netflix – the online provider of movies and shows – provides a good example: the company adapts and tailors its Web pages to each of its customers according to household characteristics, demographics and interests.

For sports, too, we expect technology to converge across all club functions to a point where the content on clubs’ platforms will be intelligently and seamlessly tailored for every fan. Digital will become the “brain” that enables clubs to cut across the growing oceans of content and commerce opportunities by bringing in a wave of “context”, thus creating content that truly resonates with fans.

Borja Burguillos

Author: Borja Burguillos

Global People Strategy

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