IBM forms sports consulting unit, consortium aimed at digital fan experiences

IBM's consortium is aimed at bringing immersive digital experiences to sporting venues. Big Blue also named the Miami Dolphins former chief revenue officer to run a sports consulting unit.

IBM has teamed up with a bevy of construction and design, technology and communications companies to form a consortium aimed at delivering experiences for sports fans.

The effort formalizes a long-running IBM initiative to develop sports-related experiences that showcase the company's technology and services. IBM technology has powered big events such as The Masters and tennis events such as Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open.

Here's the consortium lineup:

  • Construction and Design: AECOM, HOK, Whiting Turner
  • Infrastructure Technology/Carriers: Alcatel/Lucent, Anixter, Commscope/TE,Corning, Juniper, Ruckus Wireless, Schneider Electric, Smarter Risk, Tellabs, Ucopia, Zebra Technologies, YinzCam, Zayo, Zhone
  • Communications Providers: AT&T, Level 3, Verizon
  • Fan Experience Consulting & Data Management Integration: IBM

The consortium is also expected to develop joint products and services, exchange intellectual property and collaborate on design and global deals.

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Aside from being a big business--A.T. Kearney estimates that sports generate almost $700 billion globally--technology providers in sports venues also garner marketing leverage via the association with teams. In addition, sports teams and venues need to upgrade technology to be more digital since they are competing with TV, mobile and social experiences.

Many technology providers have been targeting sports as a growth market. For instance, SAP has launched a series of tools for training, team management, analytics and fitness to go along with its core enterprise tools.

The Holy Grail for IBM's consortium and similar efforts is to create "immersive data engagements" at sporting events. Meanwhile, sports customers are hoping to better segment their customers to boost revenue.

IBM said its new consulting practice covering sports, entertainment and experience will be led by Jim Rushton, who was chief revenue officer for the Miami Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium. The consortium rolled out Thursday works with 250 sports venues to date. The general idea is that the consortium will take the wares and services from various partners and operate as one.