Although invisible to most people, technology plays an essential role in the successful delivery of major sporting events such as the Olympic Games.
The implementation of digital transformation is imperative to satisfy the demands of a mobile generation that expects to receive real-time information on the device of their choice, regardless of where they are. "Even while they're attending a sporting event, millennials will use their phones to share the experience on social media, research athletes and events, and check on results from other venues," says Yannick Tabanon, CEO of Atos South Africa.
He says: "The impact that technology is having on sporting events is undeniable. It's changing how events are run, covered and experienced. The biggest change that we're seeing today, particularly for the Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo in 2020, is being driven by the cloud. For the first time, we're able to remotely manage and host an event of this magnitude in the cloud, which provides the ability to distribute results in real-time, while also delivering a significant reduction in operating costs."
Any sporting event, but particularly the major ones such as the Olympic Games, is a complex combination of people, technology and processes. Tabanon says: "The challenge lies in finding a balance between implementing the latest and most innovative technology, and ensuring a seamless experience for all parties. The one question that has to be considered is whether the technology is mature enough to be implemented, or is it better to give it a little longer so that any potential glitches can be ironed out."
Technology goes for gold
"Implementing disruptive technologies on such a large and complex scale requires collaboration and integration between many suppliers," he says. "The cloud is an enabler for this level and complexity of partnerships."
A secure, dedicated cloud infrastructure is able to drive greater efficiency and organisational agility. It also enables access to more complex and accurate data, which will spawn new insights into the needs and expectations of athletes and the public.
However, catering for the anticipated peaks and troughs in data volumes places huge demand on IT infrastructure. Tabanon says: "Cloud computing is able to manage this challenge cost-effectively, providing the required flexibility."
A connected audience
The implementation of innovative and disruptive technology means predictive and highly personalised services can be delivered to athletes, journalists, visitors, viewers and online content users.
For instance, says Tabanon, sports fans have an insatiable thirst for information about athletes and events; the use of new media and digital technologies means a global audience is able to access more engaging and comprehensive content, wherever they are and on the device of their choosing. They can receive real-time results on those devices, as well as footage of the event itself.
Providing viewers with access to online and mobile video services breaks down geographical barriers.
Additional information such as statistics and athlete biographies, as well as the ability to participate in social media conversations, is now at the fingertips of the fans, and the media.
IT security and real-time data analytics
A key element that goes hand-in-hand with all of this increased access to information and coverage is cyber security.
The more connected the event, the more complex and unique data will be generated. These huge volumes of data can offer a great opportunity to understand and even predict trends and behaviour, but there is another critical business area where using real-time data analysis techniques can play a role: combating cyber security.
Tabanon says: "If you consider that the Olympic Games' IT systems have access to critical personal data, and with more information becoming freely available to users via the Internet and on their own device, the risk in terms of cyber security is daunting."
Again, a comprehensive cloud solution is able to satisfy the highly specialised and demanding operational and security risks associated with sporting events on this scale.
Atos has been the Olympic Games' worldwide IT partner since 2001. Read more here.