If the past year has taught us all one thing, it is that sport needs fan engagement to truly come alive. Although they may not be there to cheer for a fantastic drive or gasp as a putt skips around the hole, fans can still feel close to the action with the latest technology.
That is why it is so exciting for NTT DATA, for the first time this summer, to be a Main Partner for the BMW International Open, Germany’s most prestigious golf tournament. First held in Munich in 1989, this year’s BMW International Open welcomes a host of household names from the world of golf, including 2017 Masters winner Sergio García and rising Norwegian star Viktor Hovland.
The international dimension is very fitting at a time when nations must once again work together to improve one another’s prosperity after a difficult year. The link between international relations, economic progress and golf was established in Germany as far back as 1951 when the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Konrad Adenauer, intervened to encourage the prompt completion of the Cologne Golf and Country Club. The sport was so crucial that building the course “would be desirable in the interests of promoting and maintaining foreign relations in the Federal Republic”, he wrote.
The city has been central to the BMW International Open which, since 2011, switched annually between being staged at Cologne’s Golf Club Gut Lärchehof and Munich’s Golfclub München Eichenried, before settling in Munich for the past couple of years.
Technology is a joint driving force
BMW is an important partner for NTT DATA. We have worked closely together for thirty years, driven by a mutual passion for improving the customer experience through sophisticated use of technology. With our ability to turn billions of data points into a virtual experience that enriches fans’ enjoyment of the tournament, we empower the public to keep up with all the action from their home, or even on their mobile device when out and about.
It is fitting for NTT DATA because we are building a human-centred, connected future where technology is dedicated to peoples’ needs. The emotion of sports brings people together and it is here where we can help sports organisations enrich fans’ experience.
Golf is the obvious choice of sport because technology has always driven new ways in how it is played as well as enjoyed by fans. New multi-layer ball designs, metal woods, hybrid clubs and putters constantly updated to offer better balance and control help pros, and amateurs, improve their game. For fans, technology has boosted their enjoyment of the sport considerably. Back in the 1950s, there were just six cameras covering only the final four holes of the US Open, the first tournament to be televised. Today, multiple cameras and microphones allow the action to be seen and heard both at home and on the course. Even the ball can be tracked on screen with Toptracer, a technology introduced back in 2006, the same year Hawk-Eye was introduced in tennis.
Connecting fans, wherever they may be
Golf is a data-rich sport. For the players, it’s the accumulation of small improvements and the smallest of margins that can make the biggest difference. Technological innovation has enhanced our ability to track these data points, not only for the benefit of the players but for fans as well.
At this year’s BMW International Open, NTT DATA will process billions of data points, ranging from hole-by-hole analysis to detailed player performance comparisons. Using sophisticated software and analytics, this data will generate statistics and highlights to provide fans with a personalised news feed based on their specific interests, such as their favourite players. All the data will be available in real-time, allowing fans to keep up to date with the performances of their favourite players and the rest of the pack simultaneously.
This kind of digital experience helps fans engage with their favourite sports in unprecedented ways. After a year where the fan experience has had to adapt and become more digital, technological innovation can help us reignite the spark of live sporting events and add further value to fan experience.
The last year has been a trying time for tournament organisers seeking to keep fans engaged with the action, By delivering real-time personalised data at the BMW International Open, we will reenergise fan engagement and give golf supporters the immersive experience they deserve.