It’s no secret that big data and analytics have revolutionized sports — how they’re played, watched and managed as a business. A recent HBR interview with Rich Gotham, a Boston Celtics executive, highlights just how digital forces have changed sports.
Perhaps more importantly, it lays out practical, relevant best practices for achieving success in areas ranging from customer segmentation and engagement, revenue optimization and content monetization.
The NBA is no different than other industries – like financial services, healthcare, media and entertainment, and even education – in terms of seeing the transformative power of big data and advanced analytics. As Gotham explains:
We now have entire conferences dedicated to the analytics of our business and our basketball operations. We’ve hit a point of acceleration in video and wearable technologies that provide us with information that we’ve never had in the past about how to optimize player performance.
So let’s follow the “bouncing” best practices, and explore how this particular franchise is embracing digital channels, big data and customer intelligence in its pursuit of NBA championships.
How the Boston Celtics Use Big Data & Customer Intelligence Best Practices to Improve the Business
Focus on Business Priorities and Objectives
Not every organization rigorously focuses their digital efforts on big-picture objectives and the overarching organizational mission. The Celtics, however, do keep that mission in mind:
For us, it’s really all about making sure that we never lose track of the big picture — that the Celtics are a championship-driven organization.
This is a strategic best practice that benefits any type of business making investments to become more data-driven.
With so many powerful technologies on the market today and so much potential data to capture, it’s easy and tempting to take a technology-centric approach. But the point of having analytics tools and large data volumes is to further objectives and move the business forward. That’s why it’s important for many organizations to have a big data strategy. As Gotham reiterates:
It comes back to our mission statement. It’s very clear that our priority is to win championships.
Use Analytics Across the Business
But of course the Celtics can’t win every year. So, in rebuilding years, the team uses data and analytics to stay on top of demand for tickets — the most variable of the team’s revenue streams from year to year:
It’s a matter of trying to keep our finger on the pulse of demand in order to maximize our return. We monitor pricing and demand in real time using algorithms to help inform our decisions.
We have an analytics team that’s built some models using regression analysis to help us with dynamic pricing. It allows us to determine the right price, for the right game, for the right customer — and even factor in a sudden last-minute snowstorm on top of that to see how it affects demand.
Such close tracking of customer behaviors and market trends is often a winning business case for Big Data investments.
Have the Right People for the Tools
It’s also worth noting that the Celtics have a strong analytics team in place — another proven technique for driving success in customer intelligence, big data and analytics. All the data in the world and the most powerful analytics toolsets don’t make a difference without skilled people who understand how to use it to find insights that can move the business forward.
Engage with Customers Where They Are
On the digital marketing front, the team is looking to satisfy a huge demand for content, with hefty doses of social and mobile needed to satisfy millions of fans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:
We have a global audience that has an unending thirst for mobile content, and a sophisticated CRM database that allows us to be a state-of-the-art marketing operation.
We’re working with unprecedented levels of data. We create 150 hours of video content each year that we push out via Facebook — it’s a huge part of how we engage with fans.
Almost all of what we’re doing with the NBA is mobile first. The smart phone is the first screen, not the second.
This level of sophistication and omni-channel activity is increasingly the norm for market leaders. That’s as true in basketball as it is in banking, media and many other industries.
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