Want to ace your social analytics? Follow the tennis at Wimbledon

17th Jun 2014

Wimbledon celebrated its 25 year partnership with IBM this week by announcing some of the major new technology features it will serve up for tennis enthusiasts in both the physical and digital space during this year’s Championships, starting 23 June.

One of the fundamental shifts will be how it uses social media analytics, through IBM-Softlayer’s latest cloud-based technology, to guide interactions with fans and the content it provides via digital channels such as its mobile app and website.

The tournament, run by the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC), will feature a Social Command Centre, which will monitor the conversations being had between some of its 800 million-strong global audience.

For the first time, this data will then provide the lead for which matches and players AELTC devotes most attention to through its digital channels, depending on what is driving interactions at any given time.

“The Wimbledon Social Command Centre will help us follow the evolving topics on sites like Twitter to see what is being discussed, how the volume is changing, and we can tune and tailor that to the Wimbledon.com website,” says Alex Willis, AELTC’s content and commercial manager.

“So if the social media coverage is actually talking about a match on court 12, rather than centre court, it means we can understand that and give people the content they want.”

IBM’s client and program executive at Wimbledon, Sam Seddon, suggests the platform provides a good benchmark for the technology likely to be adopted by many enterprises in the wake of the 2014 Wimbledon titles being decided in just over two and a half weeks’ time:

“The Championships allow us to demonstrate how these same Cloud, analytics, mobile and social capabilities are being used by IBM clients globally. For example, to improve transport networks and improve paediatric care.

“In addition, by helping Wimbledon provide a better experience to fans we help them achieve their mission of being the best tennis tournament in the world. In turn, our clients across other industries can do the same to improve customer experience and help develop market opportunities.”

Customer experience is the factor that has pushed Wimbledon into becoming a social media innovator, with the 2013 Championships proving to be the acid test for the messages AELTC put out to its followers, based on the issues or queries they were debating in conversation over Twitter and Facebook.    

“Last year we found our updates on the size of the queue were deemed the most successful,” Alex Willis added. “At the back-end of the tournament, when Andy Murray was doing so well, we saw a high volume of people conversing about their plans to come down to the grounds. We encouraged people not to come (because it was already sold out) and join the queue if there was no hope of them getting in. This level of honesty got really positive feedback and we’ll be replicating this type of interaction again this year.”

Willis also stated that social data was now driving a vast number of decisions at the Championships, from which countries to launch new translated digital updates in, to the number of hanging baskets featuring around the grounds at SW19. Matt Candy, IBM’s interactive experience leader believes this shows that the tournament directors understand the need for embracing and evolving their use of technology, while staying true to the traditional values Wimbledon continues to hold:   

“If you think about the shifts in us as consumers as to how we now engage through mobile and social, those shifts have driven us more into the digital platforms, the analytical platforms that support that experience. 

“Half a million people come here and 800m engaging round the world, so from Wimbledon’s perspective, how do they take this amazing environment and the energy that’s part of the matches happening here, and how do they surface that to those 800m so they have the next best thing to actually being here? That’s the main goal the tournament is focused on with this year’s updates.”

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