Sports--Entering into the Mobile World

Michelle R. McKenna-Doyle, SVP and CIO,National Football League
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Michelle R. McKenna-Doyle, SVP and CIO,National Football League

Sports like everything else are going mobile. From watching games to playing games, technology has woven its way into every aspect of the game. The ability to capture data, and large amounts of it, combined with the ability to run high power analytics gives our fans a deeper connection to the game and helps our players, coaches, and officials do their jobs. Last year we rolled out tablets on our sidelines to allow players and coaches to view still shots of play formations. This preseason we tested video on the Microsoft Surface tablet and are very excited about the potential for full use of video in future years. Communications capabilities have allowed us to centralize our instant replay officiating operations last season and we are now in touch with every officiating crew every weekend in real time helping ensure consistency in calls. Player health and safety continues to be the top priority at the league and we continue to work with our medical experts to use technology to help make the game safer for the men who play it. Starting this season for the first time, the certified athletic trainer positioned in a stadium box will be authorized to stop the game and call a medical timeout to provide a player with immediate attention – putting health and safety concerns above competition. This will be accomplished by the athletic trainer calling down to the referee through a wireless communications system on a moment’s notice. I am also looking forward to Super Bowl 50 in the heart of the Silicon Valley and all the technology enabled fan experiences our fans will have.

Connectivity through IoT

There has been a lot written about the IoT. While it is true there is already so much at work today in this world, I see it continuing to grow. Consumers and businesses are using IoT to streamline interactions, and carry out their daily duties. What this means to me ultimately is that connectivity continues to be a foundational consideration. In a dense stadium environment it is very hard to provide consistent connectivity. Stadiums are made of concrete, steel, and full of people, making signals particularly hard to move. Our games require a great deal of coordination on all things connected to the internet, including frequencies – I can see that this coordination will get increasingly difficult, so we are always looking for more efficient use of RF signals.

Technology is Revolutionizing

There has never been a better time to be a CIO or CTO. Technology is revolutionizing again and again how things are done. Every line of business, every product segment, and every process interacts with technology in some way. CIOs should use this opportunity to provide new business opportunities, new strategic linkages, and be the glue for the business. It is an awesome opportunity but also a big responsibility. Make sure you have a seat at the table (a real one), make sure you have a strong information security practice, and allow for innovation, including embracing safe shadow IT. Together with the lines of business you will succeed.

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