Once upon a time, FC Bayern Munich was powered by 52 different IT systems. On the pitch, we were beautifully orchestrated, eleven men working as one. But behind the scenes we couldn’t get our systems to do the same.

Like any other company—and every sports franchise is a company—digital transformation is crucial for Bayern Munich.

In our relationship with SAP, we’ve found the strong, stable, worldwide partner we need to make the next leap. We’ve not only gotten our systems working in unison, but we’re advancing athletically and upping our engagement with our millions of fans globally.

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Our forward leap has been an iterative process, which fits perfectly with our desire to co-design our technology roadmap. We know that we can’t do it alone, but we’re very pleased that the SAP team empowers us to play a role in the future of Bayern Munich.

Ours is a true partnership. When we collaborate, not only does FC Bayern benefit from the expertise of the world’s most tenured and knowledgeable end-to-end innovator, but SAP benefits from having the opportunity to see the intimate ins-and-outs of the sports world and its intersection with technology. In working with us, SAP is gathering knowledge about how the infrastructures and platforms they’re building translate to sports.

As with any relationship, there are obstacles. But when you work with a team of creative individuals, you find a way forward. Take for example the time we transitioned our database to the cloud. We considered dozens of solutions, but ultimately settled on something unconventional. We got a helicopter and flew our database from Munich to the SAP headquarters in Walldorf. The result: very little downtime and an amazing story! Hurdles are bound to arise, but we’re grateful to have a partner who can navigate through while keeping our vision intact.

Together, we’re co-innovating solutions to streamline and advance all areas of our business, not just on the backend, but on the pitch and in the stands. Our players are benefitting from real-time insights and medical and coaching staffs that can access up-to-date player information from anywhere in the world.

Our fans expect digital interaction, so we’re moving away from text and bringing video content directly to them, thanks to the power and speed of SAP HANA. Our stadium is also evolving, with high-speed Wi-Fi and in-seat digital capabilities to create a more-dynamic live experience.

We’ve gone from 52-system chaos, to one-system efficiency. We’ve given our players and coaches the digital tools they need to create a football dynasty. And we’ve responded in a big way to our fans’ desire for greater engagement with the club.

The greatest part is, even though we’re not the technology experts, we’ve been involved every step of the way.

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Stefan Mennerich is director of Digital Media and Communications for FC Bayern Munich