“Since the release of SAP Sports One two months ago,” says Sebastian Brunnert, an expert from the SAP for Sports & Entertainment business unit, “Most of the big-name clubs have approached us to inquire about it.”
In this interview, Brunnert talks about what makes SAP Sports One so special and about the company’s game plan for the solution.
Q: What exactly is SAP Sports One?
A: SAP Sports One is a cloud-based software solution targeted specifically at sports clubs and associations. It has a modular structure and is available both as an on-premise solution and as an app for smartphones and tablets. It’s the result of co-innovation projects with our German Bundesliga partners TSG Hoffenheim and FC Bayern Munich and with the German Football Association (DFB) that came to an end in June of this year.
SAP Sports One is built on SAP’s cloud-based development platform, SAP Cloud Platform, where information ranging from historical data to sensor data captured during the most recent training sessions converges to provide actionable insight. A key advantage of the SAP HANA-based platform is that it facilitates the processing of vast amounts of football-related Big Data in the Internet of Things. Currently, SAP Sports One is tailored to the needs of the footballing community. However, we’re working to develop platforms for other team sports as well.
Q: What’s the story behind the solution?
A: It all started several years ago, when SAP teamed up with TSG Hoffenheim and began using the SAP HANA platform to capture and analyze player performance data. Not long afterwards, the DFB latched on to the potential offered by the software, which was known then as SAP Match Insights, and deployed it for the first time at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Both the German national football squad and their management team used a specially developed app that enabled them, among other things, to increase communication with and between the players.
However, the area where the software really made its mark was in performing pre- and post-match analyses and providing team members with player assessments and personalized, role-based reports. The success of its software solution at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil was the signal for SAP to open it up to a much wider market. And, sure enough, soon after the World Cup, FC Bayern Munich opted to begin deploying the analysis and other functions in SAP Match Insights.
Q: What capabilities does SAP Sports One for Football offer?
A: SAP Sports One for Football is designed specifically for football clubs and associations. All kinds of different data – ranging from match statistics, player fitness data, information about injuries, medication, and recovery, training data, match analyses, and scouting notes – converges on the cloud-based platform and is immediately accessible to any suitably authorized user. While team administrators are generally interested in the holistic view, coaches want to map their training schedules and check on the fitness of players who are recovering from injuries.
SAP Sports One for Football offers functions that meet the specific requirements of everyone involved in “The Beautiful Game”: managers, coaches, and players. And, thanks to a new module released in August 2015, scouts can now also use the product to aid their search for the next generation of footballing talent – by tracking their favorites, gathering competition and player information on a single platform, and adding their comments and analyses in real time. Which means that the results of their scouting activities are available faster than ever before.
Q: What are the system requirements for the solution?
A: To use the SAP SAP Sports One apps, all you need is a functioning Web browser and a smartphone: It’s as simple as that! So, when you consider that most football clubs have limited IT resources, a cloud-based solution such as this an ideal option. Not least because it offers the benefit of immediate access to new functions, such as the scouting module released in August. Of course, it is vital that sensitive data about players’ health and performance is 100% secure in the cloud. To demonstrate how serious we are about this subject, we have had SAP Sports One certified as secure and run it through various hacking simulations. And it goes without saying that sports clubs retain full sovereignty over their data at all times.
Q: What’s the game plan for SAP Sports One?
A: As well as planning functional extensions in all the existing areas of our football solution – notably in analytics and in the functionality for football associations – we’re also turning our attention to injury prevention and risk. Looking beyond the world of football, we’re confident that SAP Sports One will prove an attractive proposition for many other team sports as well. This is because sports such as ice hockey, basketball, baseball, and American football have a great deal in common with football. Player fitness, injuries, scouting, and tactical concepts play a key role in every team sport. But each does of course have its own specific requirements, such as those we analyzed with the help of the Czech national ice hockey team at this year’s Ice Hockey World Championship in the Czech Republic.
Q: How much does SAP Sports One cost?
A: Potential customers have different needs and interests. A football academy, for example, will have a different set of requirements than the management team of a soccer club. We have therefore developed packaged offerings that are divided into three categories based on usage intensity and on the customer’s competitive situation. For example, a club in the second German Bundesliga will employ far fewer personnel than, say, a club competing in the UEFA Champions League. And this is reflected in the package price.
Q: What potential does SAP Sports One have?
A: The Sports & Entertainment business unit was set up last year. Already, there are 30 people working on developing the product, and more involved in marketing it. We’re not looking to become a large business unit, but rather to collaborate with flexible teams on addressing specific tasks. Thus, our core development team frequently receives support from developers in other product areas. For example, we work closely with our colleagues in SAP HANA Cloud Platform development, without whose upfront efforts our products simply wouldn’t exist.
Overall, we’re targeting our investments at devising a constant stream of new and interesting applications that will make the cloud platform increasingly attractive to the sporting community. I have absolutely no doubt that SAP Sports One for Football will be a success. Most of the big-name clubs have approached us to inquire about it and we are currently in negotiations with a double-digit number of them.
Interested in a free developer license for SAP HANA Cloud Platform? Sign up here.
Photo via Shutterstock