The motto for the 2020 edition of the SAP Sports and Entertainment Forum, held last week, was “SAP Sports and Entertainment Forum ’20 goes virtual.” The event combined two special highlights: an anniversary and a premiere.
Not only was it the 10th edition of the forum, but – due to COVID-19 – it was also held 100% virtually for the first time. This was good news for the industry, because new trends and digital transformation in sports and entertainment management are more relevant now than ever before.
Familiar Event in a New Format
Spanning five days, this virtual event gave industry experts and decision-makers a platform on which to connect at a variety of sessions and discuss trends and innovations in the sports and entertainment sector. The agenda offered a vibrant mix of themes and formats that shared compelling insights into how SAP solutions are being used in practice right now.
The forum began with a recap of 2020, the “coronavirus year,” featuring a series of presentations that reflected on the last 12 months from the perspective of SAP and its customers, the challenges the sports and entertainment industry has faced, and the solutions developed to overcome them. Day two offered deeper dives into SAP technology and solutions. Alongside presentations on loyalty management, fan engagement, and the fan experience, there was a virtual panel discussion devoted to the effects of the pandemic, approaches to dealing with them, and the lessons learned. In addition, selected customers reported on how SAP Sports One has helped them throughout the pandemic; Christopher Heimeroth, head of the license player department at Bundesliga soccer club Borussia Mönchengladbach, was among those who provided valuable insights.
The remaining event days were devoted chiefly to showcases for various SAP solutions. Participants watched a range of presentations and demos about optimizing team management and about the latest features in SAP Customer Checkout for sports and event venues, retail, and catering. In a session focusing on player fitness in professional sport, speakers presented best practices for planning and documenting medical events in SAP Sports One. There was also a demonstration of how SAP Sports One and SAP Analytics Cloud together are helping English Premier League club Leicester City FC operate efficiently and cut player downtimes. The final showcase at this year’s event looked at how digitalizing processes and making intelligent use of data is helping professional sports clubs minimize costs and optimize revenues.
The response to the event, which provided five days of concentrated input about innovations and trends in the sports and entertainment industry, was consistently positive.
“Despite its virtual format, the SAP Sports and Entertainment Forum was once again a must-attend event for industry insiders,” said Sebastian Zelichowski from the Eintracht Frankfurt Fussball AG, “The great mix of presentations, networking sessions, and information-packed discussions gave compelling insights into how SAP solutions are being used in the real world. It also highlighted how data can be used to optimize efficiency, performance, and the fan experience in the sports and entertainment sector and create new opportunities.”
The 10th SAP Sports and Entertainment Forum took place in unprecedented conditions.
Three Questions for Fadi Naoum, Head of Sports and Entertainment at SAP
Q: What was different in 2020?
A: The coronavirus pandemic has obviously brought about many changes this year and confronted us with all kinds of new challenges. More than any other, the sports and entertainment industry depends on the fan experience at live events. Coronavirus meant we had to be creative and work closely with our customers and partners. I’m proud of the range of compelling alternative solutions we’ve developed to compensate, at least partially, for the loss of that vital fan experience.
Q: Why is an event like this still relevant?
A: The SAP Sports and Entertainment Forum, now in its 10th year, has become an important date in the industry’s calendar. The positive response we received to this year’s virtual format proves to us that the event works well in the digital world too. That’s significant, because in the situation we face right now, it’s becoming clearer than ever that technology and innovations provide stability in turbulent times and pave the way to finding new solutions.
Q: What do you hope for going forward?
A: Like most of us, I of course hope that sports activities can return to normal as soon as possible, so that our sportspeople and coaches can get back to doing what they do best, and fans can experience live sports once again. Until that time, we at SAP will support our customers as best we can in leveraging our technologies in effective and viable ways.