Improving the Team with SAP HANA

Foto: SAP
Oliver Bierhoff (left), manager of the German national soccer team and SAP brand ambassador, with Gerhard Oswald, Member of the Executive Board of SAP AG. (Photo: SAP)

With six television crews, 20 radio, online, and print journalists, and around 300 managers and coaches of sports clubs and associations, the SAP Forum for Sports and Entertainment event scored big.

The stadium and academy training center of top German soccer club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim were the perfect venues for demonstrating what powerful software can do for sports both on and off the playing field. SAP employees joined representatives of sports clubs and associations to show how software can help improve players’ performance and talent scouting, how it can make clubs more profitable by optimizing ticketing and merchandizing, and how it can bring them closer to their fans.

Hoffenheim’s rise from district league to the Bundesliga

SAP co-founder Dietmar Hopp kicked off the event by talking about the philosophy of TSG Hoffenheim. He has been a member of the soccer club for 60 years. Throughout its rise from district league to national league level, the club has remained focused on its youth program. Sports are a good way of helping children and teaching young people important values, according to Dietmar. He described himself as Hoffenheim’s first professional player: back then, for every goal he scored, he was given a can of liver sausage from a local farmer.

Next page: Fans want a deeper connection with their clubs

Gerhard Oswald, Member of the Executive Board of SAP AG , and Bernd Leukert, Member of the SAP Global Managing Board, described how sports have long since become big business. The “playing field” has changed, said Bernd. As sports have globalized, clubs have had to become ever more professional, the demands for financial fair play and profitability have increased, and fans want a deeper connection with their clubs through social media.

At SAP, new solutions for sports and entertainment– the company’s 25th industry – run on SAP HANA and meet clubs’ every requirement in this respect. Fadi Naoum of SAP demonstrated how, in future, fans will be able to use a mobile Web shop not just to buy tickets for a game, but also to reserve parking spots and order merchandise. The Web shop will be smart, too: if it’s raining, fans will be offered rain capes instead of jerseys. It is all about exciting the fans and winning new members and supporters to increase club revenue, says Fadi.

Oliver Bierhoff: SAP supports the German national team

Oliver Bierhoff, member of the management for Germany’s national soccer team and brand ambassador, described how important partners and sponsors are for their success. “Germany is only as good as its partners,” said Bierhoff, who reported how the team has invested in technology to improve training methods, match analyses, and scouting. With SAP, Germany’s soccer association had found a partner that listened right from the very first meeting and then helped tackle the national team’s challenges, according to Bierhoff.

Next page: SAP HANA helps analyze player performance

The afternoon was devoted to breakout sessions that took a closer look at the topics presented in the morning: delegates at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s academy training center in nearby Zuzenhausen discussed how player performance could be improved; back at the stadium in Sinsheim, the topic was business software for sports and entertainment.

In recent years, soccer has become faster and more tactical. Being able to analyze player performance more accurately can make an important difference to a team’s success. However, this involves huge volumes of data. The SAP HANA in-memory database can analyze this data in real time, and the delegates in Zuzenhausen were able to see how it will change the game. SAP is working with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, whose RedFIR wireless tracking technology provides accurate player performance analysis. They are also working together with video game company Crytek, whose CryEngine visualizes player data.

SAP HANA, Fraunhofer Institute, and CryEngine: technology to improve the team

This new technology is being piloted by Hoffenheim’s under-19 team in their training sessions. The combination of SAP HANA, RedFIR, and CryEngine enables the sport to use technology in completely new ways. The players and the ball have sensors. Every second, RedFIR captures each move a player and the ball make. CryEngine visualizes this data in 2D or 3D, and SAP HANA analyzes the data in real time.

Next page: Player data at your fingertips

“The aim is to make the team as a whole better, in every way. It may be a game but our maxim is ‘bring the best of it,’” said Nicolas Jungkind from SAP’s global marketing organization.

Besides accurate analysis of player performance and development, SAP offers trainers a mobile solution on the “1899 Portal” that they can use to call up training plans and electronic medical records. Those who need this information can use mobile devices to view data for specific players or entire teams and compare them. Managers and coaches have all the facts they need at hand, such as a player’s speed, distances covered, and finishing ability. “SAP HANA makes our day-to-day work as coaches much easier,” said Kai Kraft, Hoffenheim’s fitness coach.

Google Glass informs coaches about performance in training

The club’s youth team is trialing Google Glass. The smart glasses immediately send data about the training exercises to the team’s fitness coach, who can use the information right away. The delegates in Zuzenhausen also heard how gamification is used to train player reaction times and speed.

Next page: SAP – the start of a new era in soccer?

Back at Hoffenheim’s stadium, club managers heard how soccer club 1. FC Nürnberg uses SAP Business ByDesign, how transparent data helps the SAP Arena in Mannheim manage its venue, and how the German soccer association is getting closer to its fans and members.

SAP innovations: A new era in soccer?

Nürnberg’s Dario Nikolov explained why, by using software to improve player and club performance, SAP has got it right: “We’ve been doing business with SAP for a number of years now, and are very happy with the partnership. I believe that the innovations in sport we’ve seen today are not just for Nürnberg, but for every professional club. This could be the start of a new era in soccer.”

Find out more in the video Football’s Secret Weapon: High Tech.