Twelve months have passed since my last musings over forthcoming trends and in the words of HRH Queen Elizabeth II it really has been an annus horribilis. And at the time of writing, it really could get worse before it gets better. But while the global pandemic still rages on, challenging us with new variants which bring new fears and new worries, the role of data, CRM, and MarTech in the sports industry continues to grow, no doubt empowered by our reliance on digital engagement when clubs had to play to empty stands, or couldn’t play at all.
So, here’s my look at five areas where I expect there will be some focus in the sports industry over the coming twelve months.
1) CDP’s will have a huge impact on European sports.
Customer Data Platforms are defined by the CDP Institute as “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems”. That sounds an awful lot like any other data storage solutions that provide a single customer view, but the right CDP is like an SCV on steroids!
As Vincent Ircandia of StellarAlgo explained on Sean Callanan’s highly revered SportsGeek’s podcast “the ability to really easily segment your database and predict behaviours is really what our CDP is about. In a world where people are getting more sales and marketing messaging than at any point in history, it’s becoming more important to be able to personalise that marketing messaging. And we’re making that scalable, for the first time in professional sports.”
2) AI will continue to be a ubiquitous term in sports.
Artificial Intelligence continues to be touted as a major function of many different digital applications, but are they really utilising AI or is it the lesser-complex-but-still-very-useful machine learning? While the two are related, there’s a big difference so when I see digital marketing platforms promote the use of AI to create segments, I ask myself if they’re really simulating human thinking capability or just allowing their algorithms to learn from historic data. Wimbledon’s IBM Power Rankings is a classic example of this – is it really AI or ML that’s working off a ton of data?
I suspect we’ll continue to hear the hype about AI functionality in our tech stack components, but I hope it will be in relation to our bigger aspirations and that we admit we’re still in the machine-learning phase.
3) Social CRM, albeit in a silo.
Social functionality continues to be added to CRM software, providing users the opportunity to manage their social interactions with their customers in one platform. Of course, this is useful but unless a rights owner can integrate their social followers into their single customer view, matching on multiple data points, their social data will continue to sit in a silo.
Using a social log-in function on your website or apps, collecting social handles from fans who’ve already provided you with an email address, etc., will help you knock down this silo, but it’ll take time before the data flow of your eco-systems can truly be two-way with your social channels.
4) More functionality and a condensed tech stack.
The addition of functionality into some core sales and marketing applications means you can start to do away with multiple tools. Already mentioned above is StellarAlgo’s CDP which provides insight, a data warehouse, and some great data visualisation that goes beyond traditional system dashboards. We have sales and service automation software such as Salesforce providing social listening and messaging functions. We’ve even seen email and multichannel marketing platforms that provide deep segmentation and data storage functionality – maybe they’re proposing we don’t need CDPs?
It’s a cluttered vendor market so we need to analyse our requirements, understand which software supports those requirements, and ensure where possible, that we’re not licensing multiple products for duplicate roles.
5) Speech recognition within our CRM eco-systems.
While Alexa and Siri-powered devices continue to dominate the voice technology space, more advanced rights owners might start to introduce this capability into their customer service approach, use it to provide more personalised experiences, and add it to their push notification options. Imagine receiving a personalised voice push message from your favourite athlete who uses your name! Or when your favourite athlete appears to answer the phone when you call you favourite club. And he seems to know everything about you and the last game you attended!
Being British, I constantly think about our natural inclination to sarcasm, and how voice tech would/could handle it. In reality, it can’t….yet….but advances are continuously being made. This article nicely charts The Rise of Speech Technology in Gaming starting with a Leonard Nimoy voice-over in the late 1990’s.
Every year I read Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology Trends because I always learn something new and their 2022 edition is no different. My favourite this time is the principle of “data fabric”, an architecture and set of data services that standardises data management practices both on-premise and cloud environments. I know of the principle but had never heard the term.
And if thinking about the next 12 months isn’t enough for you and you want to look at the next decade, download Scott Brinker’s MarTech 2030: Five Trends in Marketing Technology for the Decade of the Augmented Marketer.
Happy New Year reader, and roll on 2022!