by Nadia Cameron

Tennis Australia shares the data analytics and technology driving Australian Open 2016

Jan 20, 2016
Technology Industry

A combination of data-driven insights, digital platform upgrades and cloud-based infrastructure is helping Tennis Australia improve fan engagement and operational excellence at this year’s Australian Open.

On the opening day of the Melbourne-based grand slam, staff from the Australian tennis body and its 23-year technology partner, IBM, detailed the advanced and predictive analytics, cloud and mobile platform technologies being used to deliver a better and more unified digital offering this year.

Among the list of additions for 2016 is the new Tournament Notifications Dashboard, an application based on IBM analytics that automatically identifies and classifies statistics and updates from matches during the tournament, along with player statistics, and centralises these into one dashboard. Insights are divided into three types – newsworthy, records and international – and colour-coded. These can then be used by both Tennis Australia’s editorial and social teams to make real-time decisions on content that is shared both with broadcasters and media partners, as well as via Web, social and news channels.

At the back-end, Tennis Australia said the alerts will be used to make real-time operational and safety decisions during the tournament.

From an infrastructure point of view, this year’s Open is the first to run completely on IBM’s SoftLayer cloud offering, meaning all operational loads, including the content delivery network driving digital applications and data services for the Australia Open, are being distributed and dynamically served from four datacentres globally.

According to Tennis Australia’s recently appointed CIO, Primoz Trcek, the shift to operating fully in a cloud environment delivers better flexibility, load balancing and agility around scaling infrastructure up and down as required and within a minute. It provides the resiliency required to meet the digital demands of the Australian Open’s global audience.

Tennis Australia reported 23 terabytes of Internet traffic was handled by its network infrastructure during last year’s Australian Open, a jump of 136 per cent year-on-year. The overarching Australian open site reported 14.3 million unique visitors in 2015.

“With IBM cloud provisioning, we’re finding we have all our bases covered,” Trcek said the Tennis Australia team also collects and codes video footage and then prepares an online match analysis website that is incorporated into the players’ websites, allowing them to review their own matches.

“That is something we offer as a year-round service,” he said.

Partner lead in IBM’s Interactive Experience agency, Ian Wong, said the digital emphasis this year was on becoming ‘fit for purpose’ to a fan wherever and whenever they want to interact with the Australian Open’s digital offerings. From an analytics perspective, it was also about building on the work of IBM’s Watson capabilities to help Tennis Australia’s editorial offering.

“What we’re trying to do is get the fan to engage at whatever level they want to with the statistics, but making the statistics the interesting thing and essentially turning the statistics into the story of the player,” Wong said.