The USTA Aces the Fan Experience

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
The United States Tennis Association is transforming the U.S. Open fan experience across all channels by leveraging a combination of predictive analytics, cloud computing, and mobile and social technologies.

At the U.S. Open Monday night, Roger Federer got passed at the net twice, sailed a backhand long, and missed two forehands to get broken. Fans around the globe had a front-row seat through their mobile phones and tablets where they could track these stats in real time, analyze social sentiment, and compare his stats to opponentTommy Robredo, of Spain, as Federer suffered his earliest U.S. Open exit.

This immersive and integratedmulti-screen experience is transformingthe U.S. Openfan experience across all channels by leveraging predictive analytics, cloud computing, and mobile and social technologies. Powered by IBM Smarter Commerce, which partners with the United States Tennis Association (USTA),the U.S. Open mobile fan experience features an interactive iPad app that provides enhanced social features, instant access to live video, and in-depth match analysis and statistics in an effort to bring fans closer to the courts and deliver real-time insights that go beyond basic scores and stats.

Nicole Jeter West, director of digital strategy and partnerships at the USTA, said the organization's aim is to provide a firsthand fan experience across all platforms. From the U.S. Open last week, she told 1to1 Media that for the USTA, offering an immersive, multichannel, multi-screen real-time fan experience of the U.S .Open, not only benefits the fans; it also provides the USTA with rich data for continuous improvement of the its internal operations and fan experience. By analyzing social sentiment, Jeter West says the USTA is able to scale resources in real time. "We're able to look at the data and figure out the right platforms and level of engagement to provide to sponsors. We're able to monetize that," she explained.

New this year is a redesigned SlamTracker, an online dashboard for fans to follow match information and statistics. The SlamTracker includes a "Keys to the Match" feature that mines more than eight years of Grand Slam tennis data and provides updates in real time about what each player needs to accomplish to win the match based on data that goes well beyond the scoreboard. The system runs an analysis of both competitors' historical head-to-head match-ups, as well as statistics against comparable player styles to determine what the data indicates each player needs to accomplish to do well in the match. It also provides real-time momentum updates to better identify the crucial turning points in player performance that can impact the outcome of the match. New this year: Fans can also follow players' Twitter popularity throughout each match within SlamTracker.

Paul Papas, global leader for Smarter Commerce, IBM Global Business Services, said the USTA is a trendsetter in its ability to actively leverage Big Data to deliver both a targeted fan-facing experience as well as to improve business performance. He said the USTA experience can easily translate to the business world if companies follow three steps:

1. Start the strategy design with the customer first.

2. Think about the different customer journeys and tailor the experiences along the way by providing relevant context.

3. Empower customers to tailor their own experiences.

No stranger to Papas' advice, Jeter West said she'll continue to re-imagine the U.S. Open fan experience almost immediately after the matches end next Monday and the U.S. Open crowds thin out. She and her team will begin planning next year's event, analyzing fan data to figure out ways to evolve the fan experience in 2014, saying it's become close to a year-round project. "Each year we try to become more integrated with customer expectations," she said. "We'll look at the data and analytics and decide how we can enhance the experience."