The waves of opportunity of digital and the impact on the Football ecosystem


Digital is fundamentally changing every aspect of our lives, from the way we work to the way we play to the way we manage our finances and protect our health.

Everything you thought you knew about success will be challenged. Digital will impact every industry, every service, and every corner of an increasingly connected world. We are now in the digital forever.

Number of digital nativesLooking to the future, as per the exquisite report “Football’s digital transformation” from PwC Sports Business Advisory, International Football Arena and Exozet, We can see three waves of opportunity for organizations to generate profitable growth:

  • FIRST DIGITAL WAVE: DIGITAL COMMERCE

Improve e-commerce profitability with a better customer experience, more compelling propositions, more effective distribution or smarter pricing.

  • SECOND DIGITAL WAVE: DIGITAL CONSUMPTION

Develop propositions that encourage your customers to share their consumption data. That way you increase customer loyalty, increase revenue and reduce operating costs even further.

  • THIRD DIGITAL WAVE: DIGITAL IDENTITIES

Act as a trusted fourth party on behalf of customers to aggregate their digital data and to meet their needs through managing relationships with companies offering products and services.

The digital waves opportunitiesFOOTBALL IS NOT ENTIRELY IMMUNE TO THE SWAY OF DIGITAL WAVES

Digital has impacted the football world and will continue to do so. Ticketing is very much a digital process. Merchandise sales online are a feature of the industry today and have been for some time. Social media intensifies the connection between fan and club and provides insights which clubs can learn from. Digital has driven down the cost of media creation to the point where most football clubs now find they are able to produce and distribute more content, and of a higher quality, than was possible only a short time ago.

But digital natives will not settle for the status quo. They expect to be able to make as many licks from the side lines as they see kicks on the pitch. The reality is that change will keep on coming, and faster than ever before. To succeed in engaging the new generation of fan, clubs will need to be flexible, agile, and not afraid to try on new, digital, boots. Digital presents football with a set of powerful transformational opportunities to engage a new generation of fans and empower those already there.

Having said that, football clubs have one very significant attribute which clearly distinguishes them from other industries. As long as their financial health is basically secure, their oligopolistic control of the beautiful game is unlikely to be disrupted by any advances in technology. The passion and love of the fans will not wither away, provided performance on the pitch is maintained. We do not see digital as a disruption for the business of football clubs, rather an enhancement with significant potential to improve both fan engagement and the bottom line.

Borja Burguillos

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