Technology driving engagement in UAE’s sports sector
High performance sports have always been the ultimate meeting point, surpassing geographies, cultures, and generations, but what many fans don’t seem to realise is the increasingly important role that technology today plays in driving engagement and bringing people together from all over the world.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Tania Le Voi, senior director of Oracle Digital, highlighted how, over the years, technology has been transforming the world of sports. “From video technology to virtual reality, we are now witnessing a game-changing era; the implementation of data analytics, emerging technologies like Machine Learning and cloud computing across various types of high performance sports to deliver unique insights and exceptional customer experience.”
One of the most high-impact recent implementations is the example of global sailing sports league - SailGP - which deployed Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to redefine fan engagement and race management. As sailing races are run, the 1,200 sensors, cameras and microphones put fans at the heart of the SailGP action. The estimated 20 megabytes of data gathered are streamed to the Oracle Cloud within 200 milliseconds and made available to the staff, teams, fans and umpires of the race.
The data is stored using Oracle’s Autonomous Database software on the Oracle Cloud and then streamed out to the teams, mobile app and broadcasters through the company’s GoldenGate data integration and replication software. The unique element of SailGP is that, with the deployment of Oracle Cloud, real-time data focused on team performance - and even on potential hazards from weather conditions - allows for accurate predictions that can influence the race.
“Our cutting-edge, global league continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, both on and off the water,” said Russell Coutts, CEO of SailGP. “We are working on a number of new cloud-based innovations with Oracle to truly enhance the viewer experience and create efficiencies in the way we operate across all aspects of our business. The results are remarkable, especially on race days which are the ultimate showcase of data, technology and invention.”
Likewise, Warren Jones, director of Technology at SailGP, shares a similar sentiment: "SailGP is one of the most data-rich sports leagues in the world. We've got 30,000 data points per F50. We have eight boats on the water. That's 240,000 data points coming off the water each second. We expanded our data analytics platform this season so we can share that meaningful data instantaneously to our fans in the Middle East, and around the world, through the broadcasts and on the fan app. The goal is to give our fans a sense of what these boats can do, and the freedom and excitement of a race through the stories the data is telling us."
Through analytics tools, Internet of Things (IoT), and connected Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Oracle is supporting high performance sports in becoming more optimized, accurate, engaging and exciting.
Recently, serial Formula 1 World Champion team - Red Bull Racing Honda - selected Oracle as its official cloud infrastructure partner. Red Bull Racing Honda chose to leverage the machine learning and data analytics capabilities of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to optimise the way data is used across its business; from the on-track aspects to providing more information for the team's global fan base. One of the main benefits of the OCI-powered capabilities is that it ensures the team remains several steps ahead, with a solid competitive edge.
Le Voi also spoke about the role that technology will play in helping the UAE achieve its vision of being a global destination for sporting events. As part of the UAE National Agenda, one of the key pillars outlines an ambitious plan to increase the UAE's achievements in international sports. With its many sports-centric initiatives and its integrated strategy to achieve digitization across sectors, the UAE continues to stand out as the regional innovator in this space.
“The role of emerging technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, is essential when it comes to the planning and execution of local championships. There is a real opportunity for sports entities in the UAE to rely on these tools for accurate decision-making,” Le Voi said.
A new study by Oracle has revealed the public's keenness to return to the exciting atmosphere of in-person sports games, with many fans expressing an interest in things like drone deliveries and game-day packages. Fans are counting on stadiums to provide a 360° digital experience that helps customers plan their trip ahead of time when in-person games resume. Self-service options for attendees to give them control over their presence will be a stepping stone into the sports experience of the future.
“One thing is for sure, fans are excited about what the future of sports could look like,” Le Voi said. “We also believe that the benefits of data collection will become mainstream and will transcend race management and fan engagement. For instance, unlocking the power of data through wearable devices to assess player performance, athletes' sleep health, and predict recovery periods after injuries will become key in the evolution of sports. Emerging technologies will continue to offer the potential for sports organisations to enhance their efficiency and management, engagement with both new and existing fans, enhance team productivity and performance, and monetize growing international audiences.”