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Fan experience has no boundaries

I was recently at the final match of the ICC World Cup 2015 in Melbourne. While soccer still tops the list as the world’s most popular sport in terms of playing and viewing, cricket is gaining in popularity thanks to technology that enables people to experience a sport anywhere, anytime. The ICC World Cup, considered the third largest sporting event behind the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games, attracted over one billion TV viewers this year, engaging over one fifth of the world’s population.

While we normally think about a sport only in competitive terms, it is also be a catalyst of national identity and pride, of culture and symbols, of ideology and politics. As an example when India and Pakistan play each other, both countries literally come to a standstill. Regardless of the fact that India has always had the upper hand, winning each of the last 17 world cup matches, the anticipation of a Pakistan victory is exactly the same before every match.

That’s because cricket is probably one of the only games in the world that can go on for five days and still end in a draw. Unlike American sports like baseball and football that provide a quick adrenalin shot for a few hours, cricket can be played in three formats; one day, five day and  a recently introduced half day limited 20 overs version that is gaining popularity . At the core Cricket is about tactics and strategy; it's about outfoxing the competition, so there is always hope for a change in outcome.

The wealth of Wisden in real-time

The game was invented by the British and has existed for centuries, and significant amounts of data have been collected over generations. First published in 1864, the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack is the world’s most famous sports reference book. In the old days, the annual summary was published once a year. Now, thanks to technology, Wisden is being recreated daily in real-time, providing outcomes and insights play by play versus the old school learning approach of an encyclopedia.

Fans and players can learn from this wealth of historical data, but I believe the true value of data in sports is that it can dramatically improve the success of professional athletes. For example, Shaun Tait, one of the fastest bowlers of all time, has been plagued by injuries brought on by the repetitive actions that are typical of cricket  - running, throwing, leaning repeatedly on one side of the body. With new technology, athletes like Shaun can learn from their performance data to adjust their posture and  minimize the impact to joints  at the  the point of ball delivery and diminish the stress on their bodies.

Data is not just for professionals

Fans, amateurs and recreational players can all benefit from their physical data. In fact, citizens in general can improve their overall well being by monitoring data such as blood pressure, sugar levels, and heart rates. Data can be collected, measured and analyzed through wearable technology or embedded sensors, so you are ready for the doctor's prognosis when you go for your checkup. Not only that, but you can opt to share your data anonymously to support research projects that will benefit the well being of people today and tomorrow.

If we look at SAP’s focus on wearable technology, it is not just for athletes. It is for the masses. Over the past few years, SAP has helped create a suite of

SAP Augmented Reality Apps, SAP AR Warehouse Picker and SAP AR Service Technician for Smartglasses. We will continue to work with our customers and partners to deliver wearable software technology to enhance sports performance, improve quality of life and much more.

A new virtual experience for everyone

The next ICC  World Cup will take place in India in 2020. Teams and fans are embracing data analysis and statistics in unprecedented ways, so we can expect to have a completely different landscape by then.

With experience gained from other successfully collaborations in sports like football, basketball and tennis, SAP is increasing fan engagement and transforming the sport of cricket.

Will data help Pakistan outperform its archrival? I can’t answer that, but I do know we are enabling fans and stakeholders to enjoy the sport in ways no one could have imagined just a few years ago. Be there in 2020!

Follow me on Twitter: @i_khana