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NBA is embracing The Digital Age

By Bill Hawks on 04/11/2016
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The 2016 NBA All-Star week is coming up and this year it's on Valentines Day! Oh can you imagine the fights significant others will have with each other when he checks the score or sneaks out to watch the best players in the world play absolutely zero defense. All that said, I'm going to avoid relationship advice and talk tech, because that's what I do. There's an interesting development at this week's All-Star game, and that is the 2016 NBA All-Star Technology Summit. Believe it or not, this focus on technology isn't new for the NBA. They've been putting on this summit for nearly two decades!

During the 2016 NBA All-Star Technology Summit, attendees learn about the trends and innovation that will shape basketball's role in our increasingly connected world. They know that less than 1% of their fans will see a game in person this year. Partially, game attendance is driven by proximity to stadium, economic standing, and some by alternatives that they enjoy better like TV, highlight shows, and following the game on social media. The NBA is looking at using digital media to inspire the next generation of athletes and fans. They are obsessive futurists looking at the possibility of virtual reality, big data analytics to create video game like player health ratings, and on demand entertainment. 

Chances are you don't have the NBA's budget to throw at futuristic office upgrades like they are preparing to do for arena upgrades. So, let's dig into what's important to the NBA and see if we can make it important to our small and medium sized business owners. 

Why do They Like Virtual Reality?

You can call it whatever you want, but the NBA is in the entertainment and marketing industry. They have a product that is taken in visually at ones leisure and they make the majority of their money through advertisements related to the entertainment. They know that the goal for their customers (advertisers) is to bring highly engaged audience (fans) and lots of them. Engagement is about immersion. The more you can get a fan thinking about your brand, having experiences that stick with them in their head, and coming back to interact with your brand on all different channels, the more engaged your audience is and the more advertisements you can sell. So what does this mean to the small and medium sized business owner? 

Small and medium sized business owners need to be thinking about immersive engagment through omni-channel marketing or at least multi-touch campaigns. Chances are your widget or service isn't a fit for 360 degree views and virtual reality, but you should be using some video in your marketing mix if you aren't today! You should take what you have been doing successfully in one medium and push the boundaries with another medium. If outbound marketing like telemarketing and direct mail were your mix, think about the value of inbound marketing via content publishing, SEO, and social media. What can you take from the value proposition of your company today and publish in a digital way? Let's try an example. 

Let's say you're the CEO that took his company from zero to a three million dollar company out of the ashes of the recession and you provide something for home owners. For instance, remodelling. You might be feeling the pressure of your growth rate slowing down and you are just not sure what to do next. You are pretty great. People love working with you. You just feel like there's a ceiling for your business. You are right. Your time is holding you back. You need a new communication method to get more prospects interested, that won't take up your time. You need a channel that scales. By getting your expert opinion into a video once a month, or into a blog every other week, you will meet prospects while they are sitting on the couch at 11 PM dreaming of a new kitchen! Try a new marketing channel, one that scales. The NBA is trying VR, what will your next channel be? 

Why do they Like Player Health Ratings and Big Data Analytics? 

You've heard it before, our people are our most valuable asset! Cliche, maybe. But it is still true! It's true for the NBA owner and it's true for the small and medium sized business owner. The Golden State Warriors are moving towards tracking players injury risk with SportsVu cameras overhead in their practice and small accelerometer sensors on players to track movement. They track minutes of their players religiously. Believe it or not, Steph Curry has one of the highest scoring averages in the league, but has sat out the entire 4th quarter of games 14 times through 50 games! The Warriors head of physical performance and sports medicine hints in an ESPN article that they are going to have video game like insight into player energy and injury risk. XP low anyone? Who keeps mashing the turbo button?

So tracking your employees movement is a little "minority report" for you in a 25 person office. I get it. Now close your eyes and think of that one thing you keep getting calls about that keeps getting left not done. Think of the most important employee and how you would know if he or she is about to call it quits from over utilization. What I'm suggesting is not to go overboard and purchase a server farm for your big data initiative (although if you do, call me I'd like to sell it!). As a small business owner you owe it to yourself to explore a light weight application that allows you to track your employees time to see who is being used the most and deserves a vacation or a raise. You owe it to yourself to be able to check your iPad to see how that one client you haven't talked to this week is being serviced. You could maximize your time by knowing more about the people and processes in your business. You might even change your focus or hire differently based on key performance indicators (KPI's) gleaned from a nice business application. 

What's the big deal with the On-Demand Economy

The NBA knows that the generation that grew up with Google has different expectations on immediacy of insight. Media players like Apple TV and Roku stand to change TV deals with major cable providers for the NBA. The Netflix style binge watching on-demand is a meaningful development in the psyche of their future clientelle. The NBA is exploring ways to make their apps more effective, their in game experience tied into information available on the fan's smart phone, and their game broadcasting available on different types of devices. We know you aren't featuring your small business on the Apple TV anytime soon, but what can you take from this? 

As a small or medium sized business, your clients are getting used to the on-demand economy offered by the biggest brands in the world. You have a chance to differentiate your experience by your response time and your availability of information. Can client's use your website on a mobile device? Can client's look up information about their billing or their services with you without having to make a phone call? Can they get a new service or product ordered without having to go to your store or office? Your customers are researching and buying during non-business hours. You probably can't sustain pulling all nighters to be available by phone and your customers may not want to talk to you that late anyway, but what you should look into is making your website a more powerful resource to move your clients along the sales process. The website is your 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, sales guy. The website is not a replacement for traditional or consultative sales by any means, but the site is in fact one of your sales resources and its always on, so you better make it presentable to your clients who are embracing the on-demand economy. 

Final Word. 

Just because you don't have an NBA budget doesn't mean you can't embrace the latest trends in technology and digital innovation. Take small strides to develop your offering in a way that better engages your clients and better utilizes your time. Go multi-channel in your marketing mix, start tracking data you haven't tracked before, and embrace on-demand learning and selling. 


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Topics: Technology