Technology – Setting the Pace in Sport Recruitment

31/01/2019By Kit Taylor
The rapid growth of technology in sport shows no sign of slowing down. With audience demand continuing to diversify, organisations are having to adapt faster than ever, bringing new opportunities in sport recruitment.

Technology in sport is now very much in the “audience age”. The FIFA World Cup attracted a global TV audience of over 3.4 billion, and there is an increasing demand for OTT content. The explosive growth of e-sports has an audience that is expected to reach 380 million by the end of the year. In addition we will start to see the smart stadia become the norm, as stadium managers invest in innovative technology to help accommodate and provide for their attendees.

Live Events

Tottenham’s new stadium, which has cost £750m, will be one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world. It will feature heated seats with USB ports and a range of initiatives to elevate the live experience.  The Seattle Seahawks are piloting biometric screening technology which allows fans to buy drinks simply by scanning a finger.  Come the Olympic Games in 2020, Japan will showcase smart stadia that will embrace technology featuring facial recognition, high density wifi, food delivery via mobile apps and seat navigation.

The November report by Two Circles has shown fan attendance at live UK sporting events has reached another landmark year, so the “real time fan experience” continues to attract many.  With so many major events now taking place, there will be opportunity to leverage revenue from the sport technology sector to interact and engage the audience base.

OTT

As disruption to the traditional broadcasting model continues, rights holders need to grow other revenue streams to meet rising costs.  OTT sports platforms, such as Bein Sport Connect, Eleven Sports or Dazn managed to attract a significant number of sports fans.  There is an increasing emphasis placed on highlights on the one hand, and the personalisation and interactivity that the next generation of fans crave and expect on the other.  How the sports industry will choose to reach those audiences over the coming years, and the increasing role OTT will play in that, will be interesting to watch.

There is an increasing emphasis placed on highlights on the one hand, and the personalisation and interactivity that the next generation of fans crave and expect on the other.

Performance

From a technology and performance perspective, sport is now heavily dominated by data and data analytics. On-field cameras and tracking devices track players and their statistics in real time. This technology continues to evolve.  In the NBA a metric has been introduced called EPV, or Estimated Possession Value. This is a data point created by an array of high-tech cameras that track every player, every shot and every inch of the court. These high-tech cameras were originally used by the military to track missiles, capturing 25 frames per second.

While instant replay technology has been around for some time, VR and 360 degree cameras now give referees an unprecedented view of the action. There are still many who believe that this technology has crossed the line in removing the human element to officiating – and arguably this human element adds to the entertainment in the first place.

VAR was used throughout the FIFA World Cup and will be seen in the Premier League next season. The results of two England Rugby Autumn Internationals games were also determined by the TMO. Both of these could be debated for years to come, as without this technology some argue the results would have been different..

Recruiting the right talent

By embracing new technology, the year ahead looks to be yet another pivotal year of growth, achieving better fan engagement and increasing revenue through more lucrative commercial partnerships. With this remarkable growth of technology, what changes will we see in sports recruitment across the global sector in 2019 and beyond?

psd has seen high demand from our clients for candidates with experience of customer facing technology solutions, and the delivery of growth in digital capability, particularly to drive fan engagement and e-commerce.

Having a brilliant offering is one thing – however recruiting the talent to define and execute the strategy is essential in making a business successful. There is perhaps more pressure than ever on the sport sector to look further afield to attract and hire the very best talent to fuel their growth and innovation.

As the sport sector diversifies and embraces change, the need for skills and fresh-thinking from other sectors should be sought after more than ever.

psd’s executive sports recruitment division regularly “challenges” Boards, leadership teams and hiring managers to think widely when faced with the phrase “sports experience essential”.  As the sport sector diversifies and embraces change, the need for skills and fresh-thinking from other sectors should be sought after more than ever. This outside expertise can be a game changer for organisations looking for transformation and growth.

Utilising psd’s cross sector functionality in executive search, we have introduced Boards to INEDs with invaluable experience from the wider business community. We have sourced candidates with exceptional experience in digital transformation from within the media and telecoms sector, and we have found some of the best CRM professionals from the retail and consumer sector as they continue to lead the way in loyalty programs.

Undoubtedly there is exceptional talent working in sport and we must continue to nurture and progress from within. But growth is fuelled by innovation, new ideas and pushing boundaries and to achieve this, the world of sport must learn from other industries.  With the speed of change and technological advancement, the opportunity for both clients and candidates is greater than ever.

About the author

Kit Taylor

Director – Sport

Kit leads psd‘s Sport practice, specialising in Executive appointments across the Sport, Leisure and Entertainment sectors.