When we think of sport we think of athletes. Athletes that are at the top of their physical game, with abilities that simply defy the laws of gravity. Basketball fans have long admired Michael Jordan’s hang time, and the game of football has never been able to understand Cristiano Ronaldo’s headers which seem to stop time entirely. As we witness various industries digitally transform, the world of sport has not been left behind.

There has been a huge shift in technological advancement which has made it easier for athletes to optimise their performance and improve the experience for spectators at sporting events. Looking 10 years ahead, we can only imagine where the world of technology will take us in sport, but for now, we can marvel at the newest innovations of today which continue to change the pace of the game.

Team Jumbo Visma tearing up Tour de France – 2022

This year, Team Jumbo-Visma led the way, charging ahead of their components for the majority of the races. Jonas Vingegaard won the men’s race, and Marianne Vos claimed the green jersey for most points. Both riders were among the favourites for their respective titles, but one stark difference was the men’s team adopted the use of simulation to fully capitalise on the talent of Vingegaard, and winning the La Grande Boucle.

How does simulation play into this you ask? Fighting air resistance represents up to 90% of the energy spent by the athletes. Team Jumbo-Visma works with some of the best athletic aerodynamics experts in the world, using digital simulation to optimise performance through better aerodynamics. It consisted of solving vast, complex systems of equations with millions of unknowns to improve their performance. Simulation proved to be a pivotal cog in the winning machine!

Data driving football analysis and spectator engagement

Major Spanish football league, LaLiga has looked to its data architecture to better understand its players performance and importantly create a better more personalised experience for its fans. This is all being done through a lakehouse data architecture.

By combining the best attributes of a data lake and a data warehouse, the lakehouse is able to deliver better data management and performance through low-cost, flexible object stores. LaLiga has created a world where data informs almost every aspect of how sports are played and experienced. The data team at LaLiga uses data and AI for match statistics and in-play analysis, based on data from cameras in each club’s stadium. It allows data scientists at the clubs to perform pre- and post-match analysis and predict player injuries before they occur.

The future of technology in sport

There are many more advancements in tech which are changing the world of sport, but the best is likely yet to come. We’re on the cusp of a sports technology revolution with the global sports technology market being currently valued at US $17.9 billion and expectations to reach US $40.2 billion by 2026. However, some avid football fans would agree that VAR technology needs some work – depending on which side of a team you’re on!

It’s a year today since the GDPR regulations came into operation, but it probably feels like longer to most marketers.

What’s changed? Well, according to the news, there’s been €55m of fines delivered across Europe, although this includes a chunky €50m for Google’s ad personalisation misconduct.

In the UK, there haven’t been any fines to date, although an enforcement letter has been delivered to a firm in Canada. A menagerie of fines and further letters can be seen on the ICO’s website, but most of them – including a £385,000 fine to Uber – are under the ‘new’ Data Protection Act rather than the GDPR.

Of course, GDPR has made everyone more aware of data protection regulations, whether they want to be or not. And perhaps more importantly, it’s raised awareness of how data flows around the organisation, how much of it there is and the importance of taking care of people’s data, especially within protected categories.

In the last year, we saw a vast number of vendors roll out solutions; some of which were user-friendly and many that were not. The fifty-one different comments on our blog post ‘reconsenting Mailchimp lists ahead of GDPR’ showed not only confusion around how to handle mailing lists, but also how last-minute Mailchimp’s own guidance was. One of the major things we learnt was how broad a base for data processing ‘legitimate interest’ is – and if we’d known this ahead of GDPR, our blog post would have looked a lot different!

Overall, our analysis of GDPR’s intent was ‘handle data responsibly’ and that’s a firm, fair and necessary mission. Knee-jerk deletions of consumer data were almost certainly unnecessary but completely understandable, given the size of the fines. One of our overall feelings about the handling of GDPR was that it uncomfortably straddled a few roles: many of those responsible were marketers with limited support and a limited grasp of regulations, however well they’d handled PECR in the past.

That said, the fact that no UK fines have been given out is either a sign that most British organisations handled the regulations responsibly – or that the mammoth amount of administration and organisational re-architecting is still a work in progress. Right now, no news is good news – although time will tell.

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