Sports Innovation Lab: The Importance of “Connecting” for the Future of Live Sports

Ryan Hall Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 3 Jun 2020

Market intelligence firm Sports Innovation Lab conveys the criticality of ‘connecting’ sports venues and who to consider partnering with to do so in their latest research report, the “Connect” Power Play Index.

Sports Innovation Lab and the Power Play Index

If sports teams are to successfully welcome fans into their venues for live events moving forward, they must possess the necessary tools to ensure a safe, convenient, frictionless experience. What’s one digital competency every venue needs to achieve these goals and their related use cases? Connectivity. 

This was an overarching message from sports technology market intelligence firm and industry thought leader, Sports Innovation Lab, in their recently launched report – the ‘Connect’ Power Play Index. 

The report is the start of an interconnected series of research reports that objectively analyzes the essential digital and technological requirements sports venues need to focus on and align to.  The research series comes at an imperative and advantageous time for live sports as teams prepare to re-open their environments to fans. 

In essence, ‘connect’ refers to the connecting of fans, devices, applications, IoT things, and systems in a venue space. Sports Innovation Lab started with this specific digital competency since connectivity – either provided by an IT/Wi-Fi network, cellular technologies, or both – acts as the essential platform, or enabler, for any and all digital use cases a sports organization may hope to deploy. 

Why ‘Connecting’ Venues Has Never Been More Important  

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, sports teams offered Wi-Fi to fans, built integrated game day mobile apps, started thinking about sports gambling opportunities, in addition to supporting operational use cases like digital ticketing, in-seat ordering, and mobile POS systems. 

If anything, recent circumstances (and sports’ move to safely host fans for live events in the future) is only accelerating digital transformation in the venue, further emphasizing the importance of building a robust connectivity platform. Regardless whether it’s an existing use case which is elevated in importance or an emerging innovation brought on by the new industry challenges, connectivity will be required to make it happen. 

As such, SIL researchers sought to understand the businesses sports teams can partner with to help solve their in-venue connectivity demands. Using proprietary software, Sports Innovation Lab investigated providers in the space for the year 2019, scoring them based off market validation and technology alignment.  They organized the results of these efforts in a table, identifying organizations as “Prospects,” “Challengers,” “MVPs,” or “Game Changers.” Screenshot below.  

Extreme Networks Named “Game-Changer”

Of ten providers cited in the results of the report, earning the only selection of “Game Changer” for connecting sports venue environments (in 2019) was Extreme Networks.  Sports Innovation Lab’s objective research concluded Extreme demonstrated the industry’s best market validation and technology alignment, highlighting Extreme’s purpose-built Wi-Fi 6 solutions for sports venues and validation from top tier properties as further evidence to support the selection. 

Customers specifically named were:

Sports Innovation Lab also hosted a live webinar to discuss the motivation behind the ‘Connect’ Index, share the research process, and discuss the results in context.  Watch the entire recording of this webinar on SIL’s Power Play Index landing page. 

The session also features John Brams, Director of Sports & Entertainment at Extreme Networks.  He offers some perspective surrounding why Extreme Networks earned the selection of ‘Game Changer’ – including Extreme’s Wi-Fi solutions, dedicated work in Sports & Public Venues, partnership with the NFL, and more.    

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