Monday, 24 October 2016 17:39

How AWS helps sports data companies

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Several companies in Australia are taking advantage of AWS for processing sport-related data.

Cloud technology benefits organisations in various ways, according to AWS ANZ commercial sales manager Adam Beavis, among them eliminating the need to accurately estimate capacity requirements (cloud infrastructure can be scaled up or down as required), enabling a "fail fast" strategy allowing ideas to be tested quickly, and reducing infrastructure costs.

This applies to sports technology companies, as well as those in more mundane areas such as finance and resources.

Catapult Sports chief operating officer Barry McNeill pointed out that wearable technology can generate 1000 data points per player per second, providing an "immense opportunity" to apply big data techniques to sport.

Best known locally for its involvement with the AFL and NRL — originally using video analytics, but more recently moving to wearables — Catapult has fitted ice hockey players with inertial sensors that generate streams of data that the company is able to reduce to a "load score" to advise coaches when players need to be interchanged.

In addition to providing teams and individual athletes with performance data, Catapult also looks for opportunities to work with rightsholders (eg, broadcasters) to monetise this data.

Newscorp subsidiary Sports TG provides services to community and elite sporting organisations, including competition management, membership management and ecommerce.

Chief executive Glen McGoldrick said the company's platform attracts 300,000 unique browsers a day, but that peaks at up to a million on Saturday nights. There's another peak on Thursday nights when clubs enter their team lists for the coming weekend's fixtures. AWS makes it easy to scale up and down to match this fluctuating demand, and "that's a model that really suits us", he said.

There's an increasing expectation that participants in grassroots sport will be able to access the same data as those competing at an elite level, McGoldrick added.

McNeill noted the emergence of a "prosumer" segment within the broader market, and McGoldrick observed that "peer pressure's a massive thing in grassroots sport" which could bolster demand for sports wearables and associated services from a much wider portion of the community.

DiUS is a technology services business that "helps clients build great products for customers," said consultant Stephen Bartlett. Those clients include the Melbourne Storm rugby league club and the AFL.

For example, spectators at Melbourne Storm home games are able to monitor the queues at food and beverage outlets to see when it's a good time to go for a snack or drink.

The company has been using AWS for about six years, originally EC2, but more recently higher-level services such as Kinesis for handling streaming data. "They give us a way to deliver solutions to customers quickly and cheaply," Bartlett said, adding that fixed infrastructure makes no sense for this market.

Looking ahead, augmented and virtual reality are "very promising for presenting sports stats", he observed.

Image: Fiona Henderson [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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