The New Stadium focus group on Technology took place on the 4th March.
We were introduced to Mike Morris who has been appointed as Head of Technology and currently works at Twickenham Stadium for the RFU, his start date is the 1st April, Mike stated that he is keen just to make things as simple and cohesive as possible and that it should help underpin business processes not impede them.
He also stated that they are not adverse to having technology resources in-house (as opposed to outsourced), this was supported by Nity Raj who mentioned that SmartOdds have 20 in-house developers. There was however no suggestion that these developers [from SmartOdds] would be used for BFC tasks or technologies.
The group were told that the design specification was given to the stadium developer to deliver a state of the art stadium will all technology included. Therefore we do not have a lot of influence with things such as stadium access, security etc. London Irish also have to use these systems as provided and they will have to integrate their systems with these. Both clubs will be able to personalise the match day experience through all the display screens. The will be around 300 display screens in the stadium.
Currently the club use a number of third party solutions for various roles, ( for example Secutix are used for Ticketing and InCrowd are used for the Mobile App) these were chosen so the club could have the best is class, there is a view to integrate them these solutions together in the future.
Discussions focused around the ticketing site and it was stated by members of the group that the club intend should be looking to build processes that are simple and intuitive and if someone is struggling with completing any sort of transaction on the websites then it’s a fault of the clubs.
The club confirmed they are looking at single sign on across the main website and the ticketing site (not the retail site), so users would not need a separate login for each site. It may also be possible to embed the ticketing eCommerce elements in the main website.
With regard to fixing outstanding issues with the ticketing site Secutix are now regularly on site and there have been robust conversations, things are progressing well, a lot of the fixes to date have been to help ease the processes for the ticket office staff.
With regards to the new stadium and expanding the ticketing site there were discussions about mobile in-app tickets. It is a desire for the club to implement a vision of a paperless stadium.
A member of the group asked about about the possibility of electronic programmes (to either replace printed ones or to alongside) but this is not seen as a priority we don’t want to be the first club to make that change and it and it doesn’t warrant innovation or cost at this moment in time.
There will be screens around the stadium which the club will have full control over the content and design. Various screens will be located around the concourse areas and above food outlets for menus etc. There are two large screens pitch side, plus many smaller ones so everyone in the stadium will have a view of a screen during the match. The screens will be used for both content, match action and for advertising.
Full WiFi coverage was discussed but it was stated that to have that level of coverage within the stadium bowl will be very expensive and not planned apart from the corporate areas. As a result of this there is a possibility that overall connectivity may be poorer than currently at Griffin Park due to larger crowds. Mike Morris mentioned he will see if he can use his experience from working at Twickenham and speak to other service providers about the possibilities of implementing high-density mobile network within the stadium.
The club are also looking at creating digital content for memorabilia and giving it a story. This is linked to the heritage group and there are number of volunteers that have come forward to help with this. We have a chance to ease the transition to the new ground for a lot of fans by using digital technologies.
The club are looking at the ability for disabled fans to buy their tickets on line which is something they currently can’t do and have to phone the ticket office to fulfil.
Finally there was a discussion around having data analysis or live match stats available to fans during the match (via big screen or to a mobile app), it was mentioned that this could be viable as long as it is something that we don’t have a competitive advantage over other clubs. We could use known public providers like Opta to provide this information. .
Next meeting will be in three to four months. BIAS also hope to be able to meet directly with Mike Morris in the coming months.