IBM plans on using the 2012 US Open tennis tournament to show off its prowess in everything from predictive analytics to mobile apps, trusting that a blockbuster performance at one of the world’s most prominent sporting events will let it stand out in a competitive tech landscape.
IBM’s efforts include using analytics software to digest millions of tennis-related Tweets during the course of the tournament, and using that data to determine which players are fan favorites. An interactive digital wall at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the home of the competition, will display that sentiment analysis along with other data such as live scores.
IBM and the US Open—and professional tennis in general—go back a number of years. IBM’s Slamtracker analytics platform, developed for tournaments such as the US Open and next year’s Wimbledon, pairs real-time analysis of individual matches with historical data in order to find potentially winning patterns for players.
IBM will also offer an iPad app for access to US Open match data and statistical information. The United States Tennis Association uses IBM SmartCloud for its cloud infrastructure backing fan access to all this data at the high-pressure event.
There’s enormous publicity value in deploying an analytics platform at a high-profile event like the US Open. Thousands of fans will access player and match data via mobile devices and PCs. A percentage of them could make the intuitive leap between what they’re seeing onscreen and their own businesses. Indeed, IBM seems to be angling for that connection in its official statement on the US Open deployment:
“Big Data is impacting so many aspects of sporting events, that it’s no longer a stretch to say that it is changing the way fans watch and enjoy sports,” wrote Rick Singer, vice president of Sports Sponsorship Marketing for IBM. “Whether on the court or in the board room, Big Data is being leveraged to achieve similar goals, such as keeping operations up and running seamlessly, having accurate data readily available for quick decision making, and improving productivity.”
IBM has been pushing hard into the cloud and analytics, with a variety of new hardware and software offerings designed to help companies chew through data and manage private clouds. In the short-term, at least, the effort seems to be paying off: IBM’s second-quarter 2012 earnings included a 13-percent rise in business analytics revenue in the first half of the year, and cloud-related revenue also rose. But IBM also faces a number of hungry competitors in those spaces, including SAP and Oracle, with their own offerings for businesses.