Online environment also basis for future editions
Organizing the Invictus Games in The Hague proved to be a daunting task. Due to the pandemic, the Dutch version in The Hague has now been postponed twice from 2020 to 2022. A solution in the SAP cloud, developed by SAP partner Expertum, removes some of these organizational challenges and also ensures more involvement and perception among participants, friends and family and the public. This co-creation is a great success, as the solution is also likely to become the lubricant for future editions of the Invictus Games, including the next edition in Düsseldorf in 2023.
The Invictus Games is an international sports tournament for physically and/or mentally injured military personnel and veterans. The tournament uses the power of sport to encourage recovery, support rehabilitation and generate broader understanding and respect for those who serve or have served their country. Some 500 athletes from twenty countries participate, competing in ten different sports.
The event was first held in London in 2014 and has since become an annual phenomenon. In 2020, the first Dutch edition would take place in The Hague: Invictus Games The Hague 2020. However, due to corona, the organization had to postpone the event twice, so this edition will now take place from 16 to 22 April 2022 in the Zuiderpark in The Hague. Power of Freedom Foundation, with the support of the sports events agency TIG Sports, is in charge of the organization.
The organization of such a tournament is not easy. In addition to all the logistical challenges that come with such large events, this tournament has a number of specific challenges. “For example, many participants have specific wishes because of their physical or mental limitations due to what happened to them,” outlines Cees Juffermans, CMO/COO of the organizing committee. “For example, around their accommodation and transportation. In addition, the event is a multi-sport event and participants can participate in multiple competitions. You won’t see that at other events. There were therefore no standard solutions available.”
In previous editions, the registration process for the athletes and the processing of it therefore took place via separate forms, documents and countless Excel sheets. “Processing these took a lot of time and was also prone to errors,” notes Juffermans. “There was a tool available, but it was very expensive and also did not remove the need for manual processing.”
The new innovative solution ensures that team managers from the various participating countries can easily register participants, link them to the chosen sports and note wishes, limitations and other details. In addition, team managers can easily register family and friends traveling with them. The solution collects all this information in a central database. Next, organizers can very quickly retrieve the desired info from the system, all from a user-friendly cloud application.
This quick and easy retrieval of all required information is very welcome. According to Juffermans, it not only saves a lot of time and energy, but it also provides a solid basis for all subsequent processes, such as making the contest schedule, booking hotels and arranging transportation. “We no longer need to consult all kinds of Excel sheets for this. We get all the information we need from the system quickly and easily. That was really different in the past. I have also been involved in sporting events before, but never before was it as easy as it is now.”
In addition to making the organization easier, the solution also has another goal: boosting the fan experience and creating awareness. Visitors to the Invictus Games can use their cell phones to easily retrieve stories about the identity and background of the participants. “This way we create awareness about what happened to them, and that peace is not something that can be taken for granted. It also stimulates awareness around the role of defense in society, and adds a deeper layer to the experience of the event,” says Juffermans.
According to Juffermans, this content is not only valuable for the visitors. “We can easily send all the information about the participants to the media. It also provides a good basis for developing our own storylines. We can now more easily determine who we are interviewing for social media, for example.”
“Together with our team, including TIG Sports, SAP and Expertum, we started developing in an agile environment. This allowed us to move quickly with a small team. It was especially good choosing which functionalities we necessarily wanted.
We have a lot of wishes, and the tool could theoretically have infinite possibilities. But of course we are limited by the budget. Fortunately, everyone was very driven and enthusiastic. That really helped us to deliver something beautiful within time and budget,” says Juffermans. The app was developed on the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP). According to Sjoerd van Middelkoop, director and partner at Expertum, this was a conscious choice. “SAP BTP contains many ready-made building blocks that allow us to quickly put something in outline. Because of our broad experience in app design and development, the use of visual elements in combination with the knowledge of TIG Sports and the Invictus Games organization in the field of sport events, we were able to switch gears quickly and come to concrete results in a short period of time. We are extremely proud of the result and the contribution we can make to this great initiative.”
At the moment the finishing touches are being made, especially to the functionality around fan engagement. Van Middelkoop: “Corona caused the event to be postponed twice. As a result, the app has now been developed even further and offers more extensive functionality around fan engagement. Of course we want to be able to present that part well, after all it is what the visitors get to see.”
After April 2022, if it is up to Van Middelkoop, the project will by no means be complete. “We are currently already in talks with the organization in Düsseldorf, where the next 2023 edition of the Invictus Games will take place. In that sense, everything we are doing now is also an investment in the future of the Invictus Games.”