European Tour and Tata Communications aim to transform fan experience

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The European Tour and Tata Communications, a global digital infrastructure provider, are launching an innovation contest that calls on start-ups around the world to develop creative new solutions and concepts to enhance the game of golf. The European Tour Innovation Hub with Tata Communications aims to find ideas that can be developed commercially with support from the Tour’s business development team, venture capital (VC) firms and Tata Communications with the winning solution tested in action during the 2020 season.

The competition aims to harness the power of ubiquitous connectivity to address common challenges in golf, stemming from the sheer scale of each course. The ideas might include concepts which enable a truly connected golf course, bring fans closer to the game and enhance their experience or enhance the Tour’s broadcast and production. For example, a solution using IoT or 360° cameras could make it easier for fans onsite to follow several players’ progress across the course at once, take part in contests, benefit from sponsor promotions, or buy refreshments.  The ideas could also allow the European Tour to interact with fans in new ways across digital platforms, helping to convert casual followers of golf to die-hard fans and generate new commercial opportunities for the sport and its sponsors.

Mehul Kapadia, Global Head of Marketing, Tata Communications, said: “We’re looking for ideas for solutions that would be truly transformative for golf, not just technologically, but also commercially or operationally, so making a real difference to the bottom line. The winning idea will be one that benefits not just the fans and the European Tour, but the sport’s entire ecosystem.”

Entries will be whittled down to a shortlist of three start-ups, to be announced in November. These businesses will then get to attend an immersion workshop in London in February 2020 to develop their ideas further with coaching from VC firms, the European Tour and Tata Communications.

This workshop will culminate in a Dragon’s Den-style pitch and the winner will be decided two weeks after the closure of the workshop. The winner will get a trip to the Hero India Open in Delhi in March 2020, where they will be able to showcase their idea to tech industry leaders. Finally, they will work with the European Tour’s business development team to turn the idea into an application that will be tested in action as a proof-of-concept at a leading European Tour event in 2020.

“The European Tour is at the forefront of innovation through our content, our creative formats and our use of technology, all of which seeks to maximise the fan experience,” said Rufus Hack, Chief Content Officer, European Tour. “For us, the natural next step is to reach out to innovative start-ups to find creative and unique ideas and concepts we can develop together to help us continue to transform out sport globally and drive golf further. We’re all looking forward to seeing what the entrants come up with.”

“Ubiquitous connectivity opens up immense opportunities in golf,” said Michael Cole, Chief Technology Officer, European Tour. “We are looking for an innovative concept that can utilise new technologies and make a real difference to the fan experience, both on site at events and for those following digitally.”

“We’ve seen many sports adopt different digital platforms, but few have been able to maximise their business potential – and that’s what this competition is all about,” said Mehul Kapadia, Global Head of Marketing, Tata Communications. “We’re looking for ideas for solutions that would be truly transformative for golf, not just technologically, but also commercially or operationally, so making a real difference to the bottom line. The winning idea will be one that benefits not just the fans and the European Tour, but the sport’s entire ecosystem. For the winning start-up, the global exposure and more importantly the potential to scale to all European Tour tournaments can be invaluable as well.”

“Innovation through digital technologies enables organisations across sectors – from sports and manufacturing to banking – to drive their growth and remain competitive,” said Tri Pham, Chief Strategy Officer, Tata Communications. “We believe that to innovate successfully, organisations must bring together the right ecosystem of partners. That’s what this competition aims to do. We look forward to leveraging our relationships in the world’s VC and start-up communities to help pave the way for the digital transformation of golf.”

The panel of judges will include Michael Cole, Rufus Hack, Mehul Kapadia and Tri Pham. They will be joined by Oliver Wilson, a professional golfer, winner of 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and a Ryder Cup player.

“It’s great that the European Tour and Tata Communications are creating a way that allows for innovative ideas and concepts to flourish in the world of golf,” said Oliver Wilson. “Whether you are a player, a sponsor or a fan, we all have a shared interest in ensuring we are engaging our fans and driving the game forward. This is a great step that the Tour is making, and as a player, I’m delighted that Tata Communications is partnering with us on this initiative.”


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