SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT

TURNING DATA INTO
WINNING INSIGHTS

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and SAP teamed up to enhance the sport with exciting new data and analytics tools. The result of the collaboration—an award winning and innovative tablet app—has changed the game forever.

Visual design of the coaching app

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Custom-built solution powered by SAP HANA

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Opportunity

No data, no objective tools, just their experienced opinion.

In 2008, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) began allowing coaches onto the court during a match to consult with their players. While the insights exchanged during these brief teaching moments could help sway the outcome of a match, the coaches were limited to what they could observe from the stands.

As the distinction between professional athletics and technology has become increasingly blurred, the WTA saw an opportunity to advance the sport with exciting new data and analytics tools. What they needed next was a technology partner to realize this potential. So, the WTA enlisted SAP, a leader in innovative software for professional athletics that has worked with organizations like the National Hockey League (NHL), The National Basketball Association (NBA), The German National Team and City Football Group.

Approach

Taking On-Court Coaching to the Next Level

To co-innovate new technology that would improve the quality of play and enhance the fan experience, the two organizations mapped out the vision for the future – including allowing for the first time in 2015 WTA authorized tablets equipped with big data and statistical insights onto court.

As a first step to designing the new tool, the team from SAP's Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC) immersed themselves into the sport to more deeply understand the intricacies of women’s professional tennis. The team not only studied live matches, but explored different aspects of tennis’ visual language and expressions by looking at how it is consumed graphically on TV, video games, and even within tennis-specific health and fitness apps. The design researchers also conducted in-depth WTA player and coach interviews that helped identify key performance metrics that help optimize player performance.

From the research, insights began to emerge, and the designers developed various prototypes that were tested on-site with end users and revised based on their feedback.

Now that we’re real time, I can pass on that information and the player can adjust. The psychology of that for the player is ‘Okay, I know what to do now.’ The key is simplicity.

NICOLE PRATT

WTA coach

Result

Agile Design and Development: Iteration is Key

During the discovery phase of the project, three main stages of the planning process were identified: conception, detailing, and taskforce. This division helped to structure the next step of the project: the design phase.

However, a great design can't make it far if its implementation is not possible. Therefore, the DCC joined with Custom Development (CD) from SAP to find not only a desirable solution, but one that could be turned into reality.

Together, AMG, CD and the DCC entered into an increasingly faster iterative design and development phase. Design concepts in the form of clickable prototypes and storyboards were produced on a weekly basis and tested with end-users on the customer site. The feedback flowed back into the design and development streams and helped to continuously improve the outcome. At each iteration, the customer became more knowledgeable about the agility of the process, which was well received by Reinhard Breyer, CIO at AMG, who confessed to Holger Kauffmann at Sapphire: "We should construct cars by applying the DCC's approach." In the same way, each iteration increased SAP's expertise in the car manufacturing planning process.

Thanks to the collaboration between the WTA and SAP, tennis, while steeped in tradition, is taking on a distinctly 21st century flair, improving the experience of the players, coaches, and fans.