Microsoft's Guggenheimer talks up the impact of technology on sports

Mark Coppock

NFL Surface

As fans, we sometimes forget that sports is a business. It’s big business, in fact, whether it’s professional football or NASCAR. And these businesses make the same kinds of technology investments that other businesses make, and for the same reasons–to improve productivity, efficiently utilize assets, and make a profit.
Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Developer Platform & Evangelist Steve Guggenheimer spent some time over at the MSDN blog talking about just this topic. Clearly, Microsoft has been making significant investments in being a technology provider to the sports industry, and Guggenheimer provided a fascinating overview of some of their recent efforts.
Technology utilized throughout sports today, from putting spectators in the middle of the action to helping teams gain competitive advantages by enhancing their ability to plan and assess their performance. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and elaborate 2D and 3D camera systems are two examples of how technology is making a significant impact on how sports are being played and enjoyed.
Guggenheimer focuses on two examples of where technology is being utilized in the most innovative ways, and where Microsoft is a serious player.
First, there’s Zebra, which has partnered with the NFL to place RFID sensors on players to gain up-to-the-second information on precisely where players are on the field, how they’re moving, and even the g-forces they’re achieving (or suffering). As an example of how this impacts a fan’s ability to enjoy a game (not to mention how a team can evaluate plays and players), open up the Windows 10 NFL app and click on “Top Playmakers.”

Check out the Windows NFL app for a new way to experience replays.
Check out the Windows NFL app for a new way to experience replays.

Next, there’s NASCAR, which offers up tons of race-day information including live leaderbords, lap-by-lap commentary, real-time updates and video, and social media feeds. Fans can even listen in live to the back-and-forth between drivers and crew as they fight for every second of advantage.
The impact on the business of sports is just as dramatic, if not more so. Guggenheimer covers the example of NASCAR streamlining technical inspections, reducing the time necessary to gather information during eight inspection stages from up to six hours to less than two. And, more information is evaluated more efficiently, improving the process while saving time and money.
NASCAR is turning raceday into an incredibly immersive experience.
NASCAR is turning raceday into an incredibly immersive experience.

Microsoft’s involvement in sports also has two dynamics. First, it’s a great business opportunity and utilizes everything that Microsoft has to offer, particularly as the company transitions to their “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy. But it’s also a great marketing tool, with Microsoft Surface devices front and center during every timeout as NFL coaches evaluate plays.
Guggenheimer is speaking to the sports industry today by invitation of Sports Business Daily, where he’s laying out how technology continues to impact sports. Go check out his blog post for more information on all of the ways that Microsoft is a player.