by Dan Muse

How Technology Gives the Sports Industry a Winning Edge

Feb 06, 20141 min
Data CenterIT StrategyMobile

The inside story on how the Washington Redskins, Indianapolis Colts, Georgia Dome, International Speedway, PGA Tour and Trump National Doral Miami are playing the tech game to win.

Credit: Thinkstock

6 Ways Technology Drives the Sports Industry

Sports are big business — huge, in fact. The NFL is a more than $9 billion industry. NASCAR is a more than $3 billion operation. Like any business — the successful ones anyway — sports franchises and venues are customer-focused and centered on optimal efficiency. And for sports businesses, it’s all about improving front-office operations and enhancing the fan experience. That’s where technology comes in.

The six organizations highlighted here teamed with technology services provider CDW to improve everything from switches to mobile apps. Read on to score the inside story on how the Washington Redskins, the Indianapolis Colts, the Georgia Dome, the International Speedway, the PGA Tour and the Trump National Doral Miami are playing the tech game to win.

Georgia Dome

Image by Reuters/Tami Chappell

With the rise of in-home high-definition televisions and home theaters, sports organizations must capitalize on what brings fans to the stadium — live game action. To enhance the fan experience, the Georgia Dome implemented a high-density wireless network on which 14,000 mobile devices can simultaneously connect to browse the Web, interact via social media and access scores, stats and video replays. During the Nov. 10, 2013 Falcons vs. Seahawks game, 9,968 concurrent users accessed the network, the highest capacity to date.

The Wi-Fi solution consists of Cisco Catalyst 3750 series switches, Cisco 5508 wireless controllers and 500 Cisco 3500-series access points with antennas designed for high-density environments. The IT staff monitors 500 access points and every connected device from a management console.

Indianapolis Colts

Image by Photo credit: Matt Bowen

The Colts significantly improved their wireless communications system and increased operational efficiency at its headquarters and practice facilities. The upgrade benefits players, coaches, employees, fans and the media. The Colts increased network bandwidth by replacing old equipment with three new Cisco switches. After upgrading the LAN, engineers deployed 50 802.11n Cisco Aironet 3602 Series Access Points in the Colts facility, including the indoor and outdoor practice fields, locker room and training rooms.

The Colts also purchased 130 iPads to replace their paper playbook. The team says that digital playbooks, while great for letting players work from home, are also more secure.

In addition, the Colts configured servers that run a new mobile application that provides video replays exclusively to fans at the stadium.

PGA Tour

Image by Photo credit: Fred Vuich/PGA TOUR

The PGA Tour uses ShotLink technology from CDW to track the 1.3 million shots hit each year on the tour. Its scoring system uses lasers, mobile devices, GPS and wireless technology to capture and transmit — in real-time — player results, stroke by stroke. The platform uses IBM’s server lifecycle management, Liebert’s AC-cooled rack enclosures, Lenovo mobile devices and Cisco’s network infrastructure.

The goal of ShotLink, according to CDW, is to transform the fan experience by collecting everything from the location of the ball to the lie, the distance it travels and the time it is struck. More than 256,000 data elements per event are provided for broadcasters and within seconds.

Washington Redskins

Image by Photo credit: Matthew Furman

By investing in unified communications, Wi-Fi upgrades and tablets, the Redskins report increased business agility and lower costs. The team first replaced the PBX phone systems at Redskins Park and the stadium, FedEx Field, with a Cisco UC system.

The system, three types of Cisco IP phones and Cisco Contact Center Express software, put an end to recurring phone and voicemail system crashes and enabled cost savings by carrying calls over LAN. Employees can route calls to any location, receive voicemail via email and use instant messaging.

The team also upgraded the wireless network at Redskins Park, giving coaches, players, staff and guests high-speed Wi-Fi coverage throughout the facility. The Wi-Fi upgrade supported the Redskins’ iPad rollout to players, coaches and scouts.

International Speedway Corporation

Image by Reuters/Pierre Ducharme

The International Speedway Corporation (ISC) is planning big, fan-friendly improvements at its 12 racetracks across the country. ISC increased network capacity, performance and availability at its headquarters as well as its flagship facility, the Daytona International Speedway. ISC worked with CDW to conduct a network assessment and then designed and implemented a solution that combined Cisco blade server and network technology, NetApp storage and VMware virtualization software. The converged infrastructure was built to enhance business operations and provide disaster recovery, as well as lower total cost and provide a stable platform for growth.

At the end of 2013, ISC completed upgrades to its 12 tracks with Cisco unified communications to ensure seamless telephone communications and messaging throughout the facilities.

Trump National Doral Miami

Image by Reuters/David Moie

The Trump National Doral Miami is undergoing a $250 million renovation to transform its campus, which includes five world-class golf courses.

After the conclusion of the 2013 PGA Cadillac Championship, the resort’s IT team worked on a technology overhaul and choose best-of-breed technologies to support the refresh, starting with a redundant data center that includes a Cisco Nexus N7K-C7009 Core switch; six APC racks, power and cooling; HP servers and storage area network; and a VMware vSphere virtualized server environment.

The team implemented a high-density Ruckus wireless network throughout the 800-acre property, enabling seamless connectivity for staff and guests. Staff can now respond to guest requests via Apple iPods. A Nomadix wireless billing system creates a convenient payment gateway for guests.