An interesting trend has begun to take shape in the business of sports: savvy professional sports teams are tapping Silicon Valley for their top talent. Speaking as one who made the reverse move – from the team side to working for a software company – I find this shift to be quite fascinating.
Recent Super Bowl XLVII participant the San Francisco 49ers have led the way by hiring former Facebook, YouTube, and Yahoo exec Gideon Yu as their Chief Strategy Officer and later promoting him to team President. Yu has since brought on board several former colleagues from the tech world, and they are looking to disrupt the traditional approach to running a professional sports franchise.
Sports marketers have often relied on a strong team or on-field product to sell tickets and fill a stadium or arena. Oftentimes the communication in a professional team front office between the business and team side of the organization is lacking, and innovation takes a back seat.
Digital disruption is happening whether we like it or not, and smart teams are getting ahead of the curve. Hollywood helped promote this trend with its 2011 release of Moneyball, featuring Brad Pitt. This true story, adapted from the book of the same title, highlights Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane and his ground-breaking idea of leveraging analytics to drive successful results on the field.
With front office personnel on the team operations side using robust data and analytic capabilities to make decisions on the field, it’s time marketers on the business operations side of the organization leverage best-of-breed technology to drive their own desired results. Teams have loads of data (CRM, web analytics, ticketing, eCommerce, etc.) on their respective fan bases but often the data is sitting siloed and of little strategic value.
By bringing together those digital channels (email, social, mobile, and the web) into one unified view of the consumer, marketers (in any industry) can send more relevant and targeted messages. Marketing automation tools help teams take web-related behavior to form a lead scoring model that shortens sales cycles and results in more efficient lead conversion by sales reps. This allows the teams to not only increase engagement with their raving fan bases, but also drive greater revenues across ticket sales, sponsorships, and merchandise sales.
Many teams have already started hiring strategic business analysts whose sole focus is to analyze data sets and pull out trends that influence management’s daily business decisions. The 49ers are one of many teams who make digital a priority to drive greater effectiveness and efficiency across the entire organization. These are exciting trends to watch unfold in the professional sports world.
To learn more about how to unsilo disparate data sources, check out Bringing Together Cross-Channel Messaging, CRM and Web Analytics.