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Without a doubt, Germans love sports, all kinds of sports, but for good reason their love for football is strongest. On an international level, Germany is one of the most successful football nations in sports history. Both the men’s and women’s teams are currently ranked number 2 in the world by FIFA, and Germany is the only country to have won both the men’s and women’s World Cup (1954, 1974, 1990 for men’s; 2003, 2007 for women’s). Germany is also a consistent frontrunner in the UEFA Champions League with powerhouse teams like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and has a long list of all-star players and legends such as Fritz Walter, Uwe Seeler, Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthäus, and Gerd Müller, who make German fans proud.

But Germany’s accomplishments on the field didn’t happen by luck. The engine behind all this success is the German Football Association or DFB (Deutscher Fußball-Bund). Headquartered in Frankfurt, DFB boasts more than 6.8 million members – that’s over 8% of Germany’s population – making it the largest sports federation in the world. Beginning in 1900 with 86 football clubs, DFB has grown to some 25,500 member clubs that field 170,000 men’s and women’s teams with over 2 million players.

DFB is made up of the German Football League at the professional level and five regional and 21 state associations at the semi-pro and amateur levels. The common goal across all levels of the association is to give organization, structure, and support to football players of all age groups and skill levels. That’s a lot of work for a staff of about 220, but DFB is up for the challenge. “Our vision is to become the best football nation in the world,” said Daniel Gutermuth, SAP Implementation Project Manager at DFB, during a video interview at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference.

DFB supports football at both the professional and amateur level with equal ambition. “We are representing one of the most successful teams in the world … and this is something we are very proud of … but on the other hand, DFB is an institution with a lot of social responsibility,” said Gutermuth. “We are conducting social programs, taking care of our youth development, and football – that combination is something that makes DFB unique.”

And let’s not forget about the fans. Without them there wouldn’t be professional football. Germany’s national team is full of great young players who pack the stadiums with excitement. And to ensure its fans are getting the best possible experience, DFB is launching the largest IT project in its history. “We are about to implement a new integrated business solution for DFB and create a completely new customer journey for our fans,” said Gutermuth.

DFB plans to access and serve its customers better through digital and mobile channels. It wants to offer products and services tailored to customer needs, improve customer loyalty, and build a long-term relationship. “With mobile phone apps we will be able to inform customers about new events and ticket offerings,” said Gutermuth. Providing social features will also allow fans to see who is going to a game, where their friends are sitting, and facilitate travelling together to home or away games.

A new ticketing solution will also give DFB much better insight into its customer data. “We had limited access to customer data – customer insight – and there was no direct interaction between the sales and finance department,” said Gutermuth. “We need a centralized approach and solution that makes us able to serve our customers and manage our customer relationship.” DFB was also plagued with too many manual processes that slowed down business transactions and increased costs.

After a detailed analysis of the top software solution vendors, DFB selected the SAP CRM rapid-deployment solution powered by the SAP HANA platform. By selecting the rapid-deployment solution, DFB set itself up for a swift and simple implementation. “The rapid-deployment solution was important to us because we were looking for a solution that was quick to install, scalable, and preconfigured,” said Gutermuth. With a preconfigured solution and a clear roadmap laid out by the SAP Services organization, DFB was able to implement the SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) application in about three months.

Two weeks after going live DFB launched its first marketing campaign to support ticket sales for the DFB Women’s Cup final in Cologne. “This is the first time we are able to do marketing campaigns by ourselves,” said Gutermuth. With all its customer information in a centralized database, DFB was able to create customer-specific offers that were integrated with sales. Approximately 8,700 fans who live near Cologne received emails with special offers on tickets and links to the online merchandise shop. Nearly half confirmed they viewed their personalized email and 7% clicked through to the DFB ticketing site. This helped DFB connect with customers personally and increase sales. It could see how customers responded to the offers and make adjustments for the future. DFB also plans to significantly improve its ability to query and report on customer data using the advanced analytics and dashboards available with SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence solutions.

DFB feels it has established a good partnership with SAP. “We are glad that SAP is our partner and we are convinced this partnership will last a long time,” said Stefan Ludwig, Managing Director of DFB Consulting & Sales Services. DFB’s vision is to have its core SAP applications and SAP Event Ticketing software all integrated and running using SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service. “In five years I hope we still have one of the best national football teams in the world,” said Gutermuth. “And that we are able to offer our customers a completely integrated customer journey that is linked to our back-office systems.”

With SAP on the DFB team, football in Germany is poised for a winning future. How could your favorite team improve your fan experience?

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