How to gain control of sports data?

Sports Engineering organisation

Nowadays you cannot read a magazine, or it contains an article stipulating the importance of (big) data. However, what does this mean in concrete terms for a sports organisation to accommodate this evolution?

Challenges in sports

Traditional sports participation is changing, and sports organisations are faced with the challenge to keep the sport attractive but also manageable as people shy away from committing themselves to traditional leagues/tournaments mostly due to changing lifestyles and increasing scarcity of time of players and volunteers. Sports organisations need to adapt to the fast-changing digital environment while meeting the social demands of players. Significant challenges are: How do I keep, increase, engage and facilitate my members?

Even more important is that government bodies from many grassroots sports do not control their “own” data. Local representatives of the sport and their clubs increasingly manage their own game by the use of external software vendors that are not in “control” by the original owner of the competition. The consequence is that these owners are losing their added value because they don’t produce any insights nor can manage and uphold their position as the governing body. It is precisely by managing, evaluating, distributing and commercialising relevant data that gains insight to control present and future issues, also removing the stigma of merely being a hub between the insurance corporations and members of the sport.

Custom-made or ready-made solutions

Each sports organisations’ aim should be to streamline processes and improve management tasks by Data. Quick, accurate and continuous insight into data from and within day-to-day-processes, will significantly enhance management tasks in all layers within a sports organisation. Data enables engagement with all the people that have an interest or connection to the sport, being a player, coach, fan or parent. So, it is without a doubt crucial that sports organisations have ownership of accurate and updated data to carry out useful insights that ideally drive a sport to grow, broaden it’s fanbase and allowing to be self-sustainable from a commerce point of view.

Gaining control of data is necessary. The difficulty that arises from this insight is that large organisations invest millions in custom-made software where most sports organisations do not have the financial resources to build an entirely new platform or “eco-system” of digital channels such as websites, apps, narrowcasting and tv. Hence, the reason that most persist in embracing sports software vendors that control their data, while they alone benefit from it by continually being a transaction between VC’s and payment facilitators.

Putting data at the core of your design

These days, any club can have a responsive website online using WordPress or other solution within the hour. The equivalent applies for a variety of solutions that provides online payment or registration. Instead of developing or licensing a software solution that competes with this fast-growing technologic evolution, sports organisers should embrace it by allowing their stakeholders to use different software solutions.

By looking at the essence of its’ organisation, defining which data is most relevant and therefore a necessity to gain control of, and which data may easily be mastered and obtained from other vendors, sports organisations are able to make much more efficient choices.

Knowing that data is obtained by input, not a list of software features or functionalities, but integration and communication options should determine the choice for software selection or development. A decision for a software solution should, therefore, be made upon an API-model.

Competitions API

So what are APIs? An API (Application Programming Interface) is essentially a gateway that allows software to talk to other software – and also defines how that conversation takes place.

Thanks to the use of an API an organisation can decide for itself which data to disclose. A competitions API would be the solution and will allow a high level of integration for existing sports software. The API opens all management, registration, informational and results-entry options, any sport organizers would need for its stakeholders, even if implementing and benefiting from a full platform might be a step too far.