Tim Stanley, SVP, Strategy + Innovation at Salesforce.com was invited to speak at our MBA UCLA course, “There’s No Business Without Digital Business,” where he raised this question to the class:
What are the problems, promises and processes in integrating mobile digital technologies in the sports location-based entertainment experience?
While humans are inherently analog, today they enter venues with an unprecedented resource, an enabled mobile device to which they are habituated, perhaps even addicted. They certainly won’t leave home without it. When fans bring it, they want to use it. Your job whether you are the team owner, sponsor, venue provider, cable broadcaster, or any other stakeholder in the sports location-based food chain, is to activate this resource and the fans resourcefulness or beware!
The problem is
you virtually have no choice. Fans want to be participants, not just passengers. They believe they have a stake in the outcome of the game and that their presence and activity make a difference in the result. Venues today are hard pressed to push, pull and create the effective bandwidth that their audience has expected and experienced in other commerce sectors. Yet you must enable this opportunity or face being “disabled” by large groups of angry, passionate fans who will not only let you know their feelings, but will play that story forward to all in their social networks.
The promise is
that this device amplifies fans’ best venue experiences in their unique and personal voices capturing images and providing social interaction both at the stadium and virally, in real time, as they evangelize it to others. This type of personal advocacy beats traditional advertising methods hands down! It’s not one (i.e., a corporation) to many, but one (i.e., the fan) to one, many times over.
Key to the process, Stanley exhorted, includes decoding what the joy of the fan experience is and then continually experimenting as to how to enhance and properly integrate it into the digital offering so it’s not distracting.
Stanley adeptly pointed out that integrating mobile digital technologies also reduces the most frustrating parts of the location-based entertainment experience such as parking and interminable waiting in lines for merchandise and concessions which actually disrupts the core activity that the fans have come for. The key is for Chief Digital Officers to activate these innovations to strip away the impediments separating audiences from their money – whether it’s ticketing, upgrading seats, sitting with a different group, or providing different levels of service for different levels of ticket holders. Fulfilling this promise delivers a more robust, interactive process that makes their time spent at the venue more resonant, memorable and actionable.
Key to the process, Stanley exhorted, includes decoding what the joy of the fan experience is and then continually experimenting as to how to enhance and properly integrate it into the digital offering so it’s not distracting. If you devalue your team and your players by frivolous and interruptive offerings, any success will be short-lived. Innovation and experimentation are crucial to success. Expect bumps in the road. Fans will forgive you if they see you’re authentically trying to make their experience better.
Remember, the future always wins!