“Between Lederhosen and Laptop”

Among sports teams, FC Bayern Munich belongs to the upper crust. Now the German Bundesliga Champions want to not only defend their title but also conquer the digital world.

Allianz Arena, August 19, 12:00 p.m. The logo wall in the press center is resplendent with the red, white, and blue colors of FC Bayern Munich and SAP. Just a few days before the new Bundesliga season begins, the journalists present are keen to address some pressing questions: How is the club dealing with the latest injuries? Are any new player transfers on the horizon?

Today, however, the spotlight is not on the Bayern stars but on SAP software, because FC Bayern Munich and SAP are announcing their new technology partnership. The record-holding German league champions and Europe’s largest software manufacturer have been brought together by their shared vision of “advancing FC Bayern to the forefront of technological innovation” explains Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Executive Board Chairman of FC Bayern München AG.

A club with a long tradition, FC Bayern is in a period of great forward momentum – “between lederhosen and laptop” as Rummenigge put it with a wry smile. As a platinum partner, SAP now aims to help Bayern to tap into the digital world. The two partners are using proven technologies such as SAP CRM, ticketing software, and the hybris platform for electronic commerce. But over the next three years, they also want to break entirely new ground.

Match Analyses via SAP HANA

An important focal point of their partnership will be to analyze players’ performance and health parameters. In concrete terms, Rummenigge expects “the most modern analysis techniques the soccer world has ever seen.” In the future, Bayern wants to be able to provide their head coach Pep Guardiola with detailed information about players’ performance and tactical behavior after each training session. This will enable the coach to adapt methods or take action as soon as an injury or signs of stress are identified in a player.

“So I think that what SAP can do for our players and coaches is of enormous value,” says Rummenigge, who then quips: “But none of the players will be able to take it easy from now on.”

Gerhard Oswald, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and head of the Scale, Quality & Support, wants to create specific added value for the club’s various target groups, whether these are fans, coaches, players, or members. But SAP also clearly benefits as a result of the valuable feedback it receives from the club, which enables it to improve its software solutions.

Overall, they have defined several focal points for their partnership: “SAP wants to help Bayern to improve its processes, one aim of which is to drive forward its international ambitions. Secondly, we want to support the players, for example, in terms of their health and in helping them to prepare for an upcoming opponent. The third focal point will be to provide the fans with new opportunities and service offerings,” says Oswald.

Apps for the Fans

Bayern’s Executive Board member responsible for marketing, Andreas Jung, explains how Big Data could be used for fans in particular – to present information attractively and establish new sources of information, such as cell phone apps. In response to the question of whether modern technology is making soccer too “planned” for fans, Jung replies: “On the contrary. I believe that fans have a right to expect the club to prepare itself optimally for games. But at the end of the day, games will still be decided on the pitch.”

Jung and Luka Mucic, CFO at SAP, both agree that this partnership brings together two global “superstars” in their respective fields. By using technology, the club wants to “become more relevant, more powerful, and more flexible, and also break new commercial ground,” says Mucic. And in view of the 300 million Bayern fans throughout the world, he also sees an opportunity to extend the reach of SAP.

Increasing Global Popularity of Soccer

Sport represents an interesting market for SAP. Mucic explains how the A. T. Kearney market research institute estimates the soccer market alone to be worth a potential €19.5 billion. It was therefore with good reason that SAP brought the sports and entertainment industry into its strategic focus two years ago.

“Firstly, it is a growth market with enormous potential. Secondly, sport brings millions of people together emotionally. We believe that this gives us an opportunity to make our technology a tangible experience.” This was evident at the last FIFA World Cup when the German national team’s use of SAP software was reported throughout the media.

As the session came to a close, attention returned to current soccer events. One item of bad news for Bayern was Rummenigge’s confirmation that Bastian Schweinsteiger will miss “several weeks” through injury. However, they are relaxed about their opening game against Wolfsburg on Friday. Answering the final question of whether Bayern will be advocating the use of the much-vaunted free-kick spray, Rummenigge reflected the mood of the event in his response: “I’m always in favor of using technology.”

Watch the video of the press conference at Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany.

Photo: SAP