This year marks the 25th anniversary of IBM’s role as the official technology supplier to Wimbledon. Over the 12 years my team and I have been lucky enough to play a small role in support of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).
Throughout our relationship we’ve driven many new innovations and technologies that enhance the fan experience. For those lucky enough to be one of the half a million fans joining us in SW19 during The Championships fortnight you will certainly understand our contribution. For those watching elsewhere we have helped them to enjoy a rich, full and immersive experience – an experience that it is the next best thing to really being there.
Most spectators and fans watching Wimbledon via our mobile app, on the web or just the stats popping up on TV graphics don’t realise The Championships runs on the cloud. But not just any cloud, but one that’s supercharged – the IBM Cloud. While the tournament in is full flow I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights of the service we provide.
First, the website. Last year nearly 20 million unique users visited wimbledon.com during The Championships, and this year we’ve done a lot of work so that fans will be able to personalise their access on the site from any smartphones, tablets and other devices. The app is free. Simply visit Wimbledon Mobile News for the latest live scores, stats, live videos and match analysis. The app provides that extra layer of analysis to enhance the fan experience and engagement.
Then there is SlamTracker. Using a multi-tenant private IBM Cloud spanning 3 active datacentres SlamTracker provides a “second screen” experience for fans on wimbledon.com. SlamTracker acts like a real-time dashboard for all matches around each of the 19 courts. It also uses predictive analytics to identify performance; for example, the 3 key things each player needs to focus on in order to be more likely to win. These updates, delivered in real-time during each match, give fans a sense of being part of the action. SlamTracker works by analysing 41 million data points from eight grand slam tournaments.
We’ve driven many new innovations and technologies that enhance the fan experience.
Next is SoftLayer, a tournament winning, hybrid-dynamic cloud. SoftLayer uses analytics technology to deliver insights into the evolving social conversations taking place on and off the court at Wimbledon. It powers the Social Command Centre and knows which topics and which players are being talked about most – regionally, nationally and even globally. By using analytics in this respect, the digital team at Wimbledon is able to understand what is of interest to fans, what they want to see and what they read the most.
SoftLayer is helping Wimbledon respond to fans’ needs in real-time, serving up relevant content on relevant digital platforms to make the experience more fun and engaging. New this year is “Hill vs. World”. We ask questions of fans cheering on Henman Hill and compare and contrast their answers with those of fans watching elsewhere. “Hill vs. World” is serving up some interesting results.
And, Match Point… Using IBM Watson technologies and our cloud management software Smart Cloud Orchestrator, we are automatically adjusting the cloud infrastructure to better power wimbledon.com. We like to think of our contribution as “under the covers”. In a sense like the familiar rain covers racing out underneath grey skies, we are ensuring the grass courts are optimised for the competitive challenges of The Championships.
In 2013 we used our analytics capabilities to monitor a raft of feeds including social media as well as other data – order of play, historic demands and even the weather. IBM then used this data to automatically tune the capacity we provisioned – load balancing, auto-scaling, etc. This was a huge enhancement over how we handled the same data and traffic in 2012.
This year, with IBM Watson technologies and our cloud management software Smart Cloud Orchestrator, we have halved the provisioning time while ensuring the website has to capacity to look ahead 90 minutes. Few can boast a 50% gain over the year before, something the top seeds playing can only dream of. The net effect is that we run a leaner system that responds faster. We can make changes more efficiently on a continuous cycle. This automated intelligence in the management is for me the most exciting part of our contribution. As data pours in from SlamTracker while SoftLayer responds to social traffic and the fans atop Henman Hill cheer we are enhancing The Championships, Wimbledon 2014. The benefit to fans is almost transparent, few ever realise the power cloud computing has to offer.
Wimbledon for me is one of the sporting highlights of the year. So with all the new technology innovations we are providing this year, we feel confident that they deliver that extra layer of insights and entertainment for fans to enjoy the world over. Game, Set, Match. For me it has been 12 great years of tennis – 25 great years for IBM.
Wimbledon Bluemix Innovation Challenge
Our work with Wimbledon is just one example of how technology contributes to The Championships and the overall fan experience. Like every new player looking to mark their mark on tennis’ grandest stage, from the top seeds to the unseeded, we are open new ideas. Do you have an idea for improvements for next year? If so then enter the Wimbledon Bluemix Innovation Challenge. Your app could be a smash.