The world’s sporting capital played host to the 2016 Asia-Pacific Sports Analytics Conference, where delegates and participants welcomed pioneers and industry thought-leaders and beckoned in the future of sports technology and engagement. This year the spotlight was on fan engagement, data science and sports technology.
The Asia-Pacific represents 60% of the world's population - and the fastest growing markets for sports digital marketing, eSports, wearables, loT, virtual reality, fatigue management and human performance.
Trends of the future
John Eren, Minister of Sport, Tourism and Major Events opened the conference with Australian Grand Prix director, Laura Anderson.
The minister was eager to discuss the benefits of innovation in sports tech will bring to the Victorian economy as a whole, while event organiser and PCSL Executive Director, John Persico, described the sold-out event as a celebration of the industry's future and the achievements of its brightest innovators.
Persico emphasised Australia's ability to become a world leader in sports technology and analytics.
"Geographically, Asia-Pacific represents 60% of the world's population - and the fastest growing markets for sports digital marketing, eSports, wearables, virtual reality, fatigue management and human performance," he said.
A social approach
Steve Lockwood, Facebook's Head of Marketing and Science was one of the conference's most notable guests. His unique insights into both brand and fan engagement made explicit the need for innovation to always stay ahead of user expectations.
Lockwood acknowledged that the near universal interest in sports means it's necessary to support it. In particular, he pointed out that this means sport is a significant part of Facebook's social landscape, making it necessary for the social network to ensure it offers products and solutions that give sports fans the best possible user experience.
"We use demographics and behavioural data to create targeting segments across a wide range of interests and characteristics. We have clusters of people that brands, sports teams and sports individuals can easily target with a high level of confidence that those individuals have a strong interest in the NRL, for example. And knowing they have got that qualified audience, and if they're sending out a tailored message to that group of people, they are more likely to be interested in it and react positively,' he said.
Lockwood also made a strong case for the need to adjust user experience to account for the global shift to a mobile platform. With over 77% of sports fans using a second screen while watching sport, he called his audience to rise to the challenge by transforming functionality and content to keep pace with user habits.
"Mobile is a very good platform to be able to do that, as people have a much closer relationship with that device than other channels of communications", said Lockwood. With 1.09 billion people using Facebook every single day, and 11 million people logging on mobile every day in Australia, marketers will certainly be watching this space closely."
Revolutionising the playbook
hudl, a leading provider of video analytics and measurables, was on a mission to build its reputation as a forward-thinking and unconventional industry leader. With a catalogue of clients that includes the AFL, Rugby Union, Tennis Australia and recent NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, they hardly needed to compete for attention.
hudl’s Australian Manager, Michael Conlan, demonstrated how their video-based technology is providing data and analytics for their clients using software from the recently acquired Sportstec - allowing users to access video and statistics from any device, anywhere in the world.
Building a network for the future
As the conference drew to a close, twelve of the best sports analytics startups were given five minutes to sell their product to a room of brands and investors during an event called The Pitch Session.
Participants included startups from India and New Zealand in addition to the many local and interstate enterprises that were given their moment in the spotlight. Leslie Barry, Head of Innovation at Sportsbet, laid down the gauntlet, asking attendees to invest themselves in engaging and helping to build these startups.
Craig Hill, Chief Executive if the Australian Sports Technology Network (ASTN), returned to a key theme of the conference by reminding his audience that Australia was leading the way in sports technology innovation.
“A lot of eyes are pointing Australia’s way in regards to new sports innovations and applications of technology into sport. [It is] a sector [in which] Australia can proudly [claim a] competitive advantage.”
Data from the clouds
The conference also saw insights from emerging data specialists, Lexer, who offer clients platforms, cloud analytics, and support from a team of local developers and data analysts.
With less than 0.5% of all data being analysed, there is considerable potential for brands like Lexer to lead the way in building platforms for efficiently utilising data.
Lexer Director, Michael Walmsley pointed out that data growth will increase exponentially - roughly 4,300% over the next 4 years. “Over 70% of it will be generated by individuals, not businesses,” he said “So there’s all this human data that’s being generated each day that businesses can learn from. Businesses are starting to realise they can use data to harvest key customer insights.”