Digital is centre court at Wimbledon
Published 07/07/2016
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Bill Jinks is IBM’s chief technology officer for sales and distribution in the UK and a distinguished engineer. He leads a team of architects to define industry solutions that exploit digital, cognitive and cloud technologies.

At Thinking Digital 2016, he talked about how IBM provided the “digital heart that’s underneath the skin of Wimbledon”.

It really doesn’t need stating but sport is big business. Wimbledon needs to compete with massive events for fans’ loyalty and attention. Wimbledon needs to provide a better experience for fans, for the media, for the players. They are doing this by using digital, bringing the technology to life without affecting the fundamental nature of the event.

What has this got to do with your business? Well, if you replace “fans” with customers or clients and replace football, formula 1 etc., with your competitors, hopefully, that will become clear.

There will always be a limit to how many people can physically attend Wimbledon and even television, which reaches a massive audience, isn’t the most convenient, desired or most engaging way to experience the event. At Wimbledon, their digital mantra is “The next best thing to being there”. To reach new customers and markets, they’re investing heavily so that they can have the best digital platforms, even to the point of competing with their partners like the BBC.

At the centre of all this is The site currently gets over 21 million unique visitors a year and of course has been designed responsively so that it can be displayed correctly on all platforms – mobile, tablets and desktops. The surprising statistic was that 80% of visitors view the site on a desktop. This was amusingly put down to viewers secretly watching matches while at work in their office but actually reveals a more powerful insight: don’t assume you know what your customers want or follow general rules – look at the data. “Mobile first” isn’t always the way to go.

Social media is the main driving force Wimbledon uses to reach new audiences. They are using these platforms to create brand advocates for The important takeaway Bill provided was to make sure you are talking to different audiences in the correct tone of voice and use specific campaigns for specific channels. One size doesn’t fit all. Oh, and imagery and video is the killer content.

A great quote from the talk was that it’s “easier to teach tennis players to use software than to teach engineers about tennis”. Bill was talking about how they recruit ex-tennis players as data analysts to provide insight around the statistics that are generated, but this could easily be extended to social media. Whatever your business, whether accountancy, retail or even a museum, the people who should be active on your social media are those that are experts in your business, not necessarily the experts in social media.

Wimbledon’s mission is to be “The best tennis tournament in the world by some distance on all measures”. Think about that. They want to be better than their competition on all KPIs. Imagine walking into your boardroom with that ambition.

For Wimbledon, digital is at the centre of that ambition.
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