By Orlando Ayala, Chairman & CVP Emerging Businesses, Microsoft
I’ve written before about my own passion for futbol and how it was a powerful force in my youth growing up in Colombia. For me, as it is for sports fans the world over, the true power and relevance of sport is the community it creates. Fans of a team share the same passion, yet connecting to this shared community when one is not attending the live game or match has historically been very limited. It’s exciting for us at Microsoft to help break down geographic boundaries, and across generations — through the power of technology to unite fans and bring together these communities through the power of cloud, big data and mobile technologies.
Last fall we announced an ambitious partnership with Real Madrid C.F. to accelerate the digital transformation of the popular futbol club through technology. Real Madrid C.F. has been an incredible partner with bold ambitions to reinvent and reimagine its entire business in a new digital way.
Fifty years ago, a team’s ecosystem revolved around the pitch, and ticket sales and merchandising at the home stadium. The fan experience depended on whether or not you were in the stadium for a live game. For Real Madrid, now “the new playing field is the world” as their 450 million global fans can interact with the club in many ways: via real-time digital content, live events and following the players behind the gates.
Today, with one of the most popular teams in all of sport, we unveil the Realmadrid App on Windows Phone, iOS and Android. With unprecedented access to the club, the app gives Real Madrid’s loyal fans around the world more ways to connect with their beloved team as well as amongst themselves and without geographic boundaries. With enhanced experiences like multi-angle match viewing and fan competitions, the new app truly empowers the fans’ passion no matter where they are in the world. In a way this will create a digital Santiago Bernabeu stadium with unlimited seat capacity for fans!
But, I’m kind of a data geek, so one of my favorite features of the app is the rich player and team stats at my fingertips. I can compare goals scored or penalties missed by player. While watching a match on TV, my app shows me camera angles such as the player bench and tunnel views, so I get to see the fun reactions of players like Marcelo, James or Sergio during the game.
Before this app, Real Madrid could only broadcast information and news to its fans, a one-way communication, without the ability to receive real-time feedback. Now the club will be able to better understand the needs and wants of those following it and make that content available before, during and after the match, during the season and the off season.
Our vision is to not only change the game for the fans, but revolutionize the entire sports industry. For clubs, we will build the technology infrastructure, including software and cloud services, to help teams operate more efficiently across its business units. This includes the development of an ecosystem of services and IT partners specialized in sports and that share our common passion for hyper connected fans anytime, anywhere and on any device. The vision too sees the club employees, coaches, and players using Microsoft technology such as Surface, Windows Phone and Microsoft Band to help player performance during training and on the field.
The alliance with Real Madrid is a great example of the innovative ways Microsoft is working with partners in sports and entertainment industries. Together, we can transform passion through technology – as well as the game and the club for fans, players and organizations. As Jose Angel Sanchez, CEO of Real Madrid says “the new playing field is the world” and now we can see that this dream of a globally connected and passionate “Madridistas” family can be truly realized. I could not agree more!