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We are transfixed by sports. Our eyes are drawn to the screen almost against our will, even when we’re not watching our favorite teams or athletes, because against the backdrop of our often too-predictable and prosaic lives, we have a chance to glimpse at greatness. If the word holy seems too strong, consider the frequency with which sports arenas are referred to as cathedrals.
Organizations around the world spend billions of dollars annually to associate themselves with spectator sports, not just because a lot of people watch, but because people watch with rapt attention. And it’s one element underlying Oracle’s sports partnership strategy.
But while it’s thrilling to have our name linked to pedigreed brands such as the Golden State Warriors or Red Bull Racing Honda, there’s another, more important factor in play as well: sports provide a platform for us to tell our technology story in a way that people can relate to. It’s why we partner not only individual teams but, in certain cases, entire leagues—such as Premier League or SailGP.
During televised Premier League games, for instance, Oracle and Premier League are sharing match insights like win probability, goal threat and average position. It’s the kind of statistics that any fan can relate to – and find their enjoyment of the game enhanced. But it’s also an example of how data can be gathered and analyzed in real time.
We don’t have to explain how the stats are derived in the moment, but if wanted, we could go into great detail on the vast quantity and variety of data that are stored, the analysis that goes into identifying analogous historical data, preparing it for the machine learning algorithms, running the model and generating predictions, and then—all in real time—displaying the data in a way that can provide a decision-maker with actionable information. Which, in this case, is giving the decision-maker a reason to jump out of her chair and cheer.
Many of our partnerships go even further, providing teams with actionable intelligence to make decisions during the course of competition.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld famously quipped about sports fandom that we’re all rooting for laundry—the implication being that the players are interchangeable, and that our feelings for the teams or players we follow aren’t reciprocated. The laundry doesn’t even know we exist!
That is changing. Teams in partnership with Oracle can make their fans feel more connected to each other as well as to the team itself. For example, fans can build a profile or read driver profiles on the Red Bull Racing Honda web site, and earn points for listening to the Red Bull Racing Honda podcast, reading news, finding hidden codes, and referring friends. Those points can add up to free swag, digital downloads, autographed items, and other VIP experiences that really make fans feel connected—to each other, and as part of the team.
The teams and leagues we work with also use Oracle technology to make spectating more fun. For example, fans can watch games and races on television, while also enjoying a second screen experience on their mobile devices.
These sports partnerships create not just great visibility for our technology, but create the kind of storyline that we can share with business leaders who make purchasing decisions about the IT they want their organizations to use. (You run an investment advisory? How would you like to run the same kind of risk analysis used by an F1 team to decide whether or not to pit, or change from slicks to grooved tires? How would you like your customers to feel as good about your brand as they do about Team X or League Y that uses your ACX technology?)
We gravitate to spectator sports because they’re an opportunity for us to witness true grace. We also look for grace in other aspects of our lives. We seek out and gladly pay for brands that manage to imbue themselves with the magical elixir of immanence, who by virtue of being in our lives seem to improve them.
Technology is an accelerant to this grace, and an important vehicle for sharing it with others. Sports are the perfect vehicle for telling the story of the power of our technology.
If sports is the manifestation of grace, then technology is our means of magnifying, enhancing, and sharing this grace with more people.