Digital is transforming the way we play and experience sports

10 October 2023 4 min. read
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Digital transformation is no longer something that just affects Australian businesses. It’s something that’s reached our cricket pitches, ovals, and tennis courts, writes Michael Horton, Country Manager for A/NZ at HCLTech.

Over the past decade, technology has significantly increased its presence in the lives of Australians. Now it’s shaping sporting organisations across the nation in exciting new ways which have the potential to unlock new experiences for fans and players of all levels.

Why now? Because digital is changing how we play.

Michael Horton, Country Manager A/NZ, HCLTech

For the past century, sporting organisations kept grassroots records using paper scorebooks and filing systems. Training programs, player information, and match results were all filed and archived by hand, added into spreadsheets to share with fans and players at the end of each season. But those days are long gone.

Digital transformation has revolutionised the process, providing teams and players of all levels with sophisticated digital record keeping and analysis tools.

Technology allows teams to post live scores and updates for players and fans to view in real time. This includes live streaming games for friends, family, and fans who are unable to be there in person, bringing those in the sporting community together and increasing both engagement and participation.

At a grassroots level

Above all else, technology is having a profound impact on sports at a grassroots level, providing players and fans with the tools available to elite athletes.

We know first-hand how impactful this can be. Since 2019, HCLTech has worked in partnership with Cricket Australia to supercharge their digital transformation journey. This partnership has gone on to improve data integrity management and the experience for fans and players of all levels, with the revamped PlayCricket app now accessed more than 150,000 times per minute during the summer cricket season.

Last month, Cricket Australia announced it was extending its partnership with HCLTech for its next digital transformation phase. As part of this partnership, HCLTech will implement automation, analytics, artificial intelligence, and DevOps to the Cricket Australia Live and PlayCricket apps.

Cricket Australia announced it was extending its partnership with HCLTech

Our work will help deliver immersive digital experiences to players, partners, and fans worldwide and allow cricket fans at a grassroots level to compare their statistics with Australia’s top cricketers. It has the potential to inspire a new generation of cricketers and foster a closer connection with their sporting idols.

What fans really want

Digital transformation allows organisations to get a better understanding of fans’ desires and needs, allowing them to create more personalised experiences. Instant feedback via comments on sporting applications and social media creates data-driven fan experiences that will keep them engaged for longer.

Digital solutions like this can also be incorporated into venues to not only enhance fan experience but also increase profitability and security. This means that engagement can be improved before, during, and after games, as well as during the off-season, which encourages fan longevity.

Now that engagement has moved away from traditional broadcast media to a range of digital alternatives such as websites, apps, streaming, and social media, organisations should be looking at how they can use this opportunity to diversify their revenue streams. Not only is this attractive to sponsors and investors, but it also allows organisations to get closer to fans and participants.

Sporting organisations can then utilise fans’ data to better understand their habits, preferences, and demographics, personalising their fans’ experience. Combined with an increase in fans and grassroots participation, this boosts a sporting organisations’ bottom line.

Technology can have a profound impact on those playing sports at community level, improving participants’ experience to be on par with that of professional athletes by encouraging further growth and development.

Data, record keeping, the ability to livestream matches, and the availability of game-by-game player and team statistics has modernised sport. It allows organisers to streamline the entire process, engaging a larger audience and encouraging participation.

Combining sport and technology is key to ensuring that Australians of all ages, genders, and backgrounds are given the chance to engage with a sport that they love at any point in their lifetime. It also means the nation’s favourite sports will be enjoyed for generations to come.