Fans, teams and athletes (professional or otherwise) are well aware that advanced technologies are revolutionizing the sports industry. Earlier this year at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP’s largest annual customer event, I covered some pretty interesting discussions between leaders from the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and the San Francisco 49ers football team. Along with athletic performance apparel and footwear manufacturer Under Armour, all are co-innovating with SAP on software solutions that use Big-Data, mobile and cloud to bring fans closer to the action, improve player performance and generate new revenue streams for teams.
The idea behind all this technology is very simple: The right information makes sports more fun -- whether you’re watching the team, managing it or playing on it. Based on my personal experiences on the golf course this season, I can tell you one thing: This stuff really works. I’ve been lucky to have as my golf pro Cathy MacPherson, one of the most gifted teachers I’ve ever had. MacPherson has long been at the forefront of technology. Her Web site is optimized for mobile devices and features a 24/7 on-line scheduling system for the convenience of her clients. She’s already one of the few pros in the region using the FlightScope X2, a Doppler radar system that lets you view the flight of your ball and arc of your swing in real-time. The video captures and stores all the data in 3D so you can see what you need to work on, as well as how you’ve improved over time. She also does video lessons using a mobile-based program that lets her draw on the screen, sending snapshots and video to clients instantly using her iPad or iPhone.
With the release of her new mobile app, now available on iTunes and Android, MacPherson is fully mobilized, taking advantage of the latest technology to meet the needs of her increasingly on-the-go clients. Here’s what she told me that sparked her decision to go mobile.
“I discovered a company that builds mobile apps when I was at the PGA trade show in Orlando last year, and decided that the mobile device platform was the way to go. People do everything on their mobile devices, including me, so it made sense to have an app of my own.”
As one of the beta users, I can report that the app couldn’t be easier. Booking lessons takes seconds from my iPhone -- one click and I’m at the scheduler. But the best part of going mobile with any sport is the real-time information that lets you do things you couldn’t do before. This includes receiving real-time alerts on changeable New England weather conditions at Ferncroft Country Club, where MacPherson teaches. She can send important push notifications, such as lesson cancellations due to the weather, new golf workshops and links to her blog, “A Great Approach to a Better Game.” MacPherson credits the app will helping to give her blog greater reach in more than 30 countries. Users can also connect directly with MacPherson on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Similar to other industries, MacPherson thinks the next technology frontier for golf instruction lies in wearables that seamlessly deliver personal performance information. Being analytical to the core, I say bring it on. Technology means data and that’s an alluring combination exactly suited to my style. As for results so far, nothing beats the convenience factor that mobile delivers. Less time spent on logistics translates to more fun time for golf. The real proof, though, is in my handicap, which is actually several points lower since the season began in April. That’s the kind of fun factor every golfer can appreciate.
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