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Sports and entertainment organizations collect tremendous amounts of data on the fan experience, such as attendance, ticketing, merchandise, etc. These data troves can provide invaluable opportunities for growth and profitability. That is why I called sports and analytics a “perfect couple” in my Sports & Analytics series.

However, having all the data doesn’t do much good if we are not asking the right business questions -- or don’t have the right analytics platforms to answer them.It is critical to see data as both a strategic asset and essential raw material for promoting a culture of data-driven decision making. Coupled with the right technology, design and implementation, analytics platforms can deliver on all three pillars of business intelligence: insight into the right data, for the right role and at the right time.

However, just capturing and storing data will not get us far. Disconnected and fragmented data cannot paint a complete picture of the end-to-end fan journey because different segments linger in a detached state or in isolated buckets.

We need to integrate these data sources by transforming them into cohesive and compatible building data blocks. We must also cleanse them (and in some cases complete them) to avoid the “Garbage In Garbage Out” syndrome. Then we can study them with confidence. When all is set and done, the final step is to deliver a user interface that is easy and simple to consume (more on this in a future post).

Let’s look at few examples.

Fan Profile Data: Helps us better understand who our fans are. We can’t deliver a world class fan experience if we don’t know this. For example, knowing the age and gender makeup of our fan base can improve our marketing with better-targeted campaigns, and help us investment in enhancing the fan experience.

These types of questions may appear simple, but capturing them accurately may get tricky. In some cases, this information may be easily and readily available, such as age of season ticket holders. In other instances, we may need additional business processes in order to collect or capture these data points such as fan loyalty or reward programs.

Transaction Data: Uses multi-dimensional analysis to enhance the fan insight, gaining a better understanding of who our fans are and what they like -- and don’t like. The type of data is by nature very large. In many cases, a single snapshot won’t be sufficient. We would need to look at historical sets to identify patterns, analyze trends, highlight seasonality or identify outliers. For example, attendance is key to a team’s strategy just as it is for an airline or a hotel property. No one likes to see empty seats.

Capturing and reporting on the plain attendance figures is relatively simple and provides a good start. But additional questions immediately follow in order to drive further insight whether we compare attendance on a specific day, previous games, against averages or specific teams. These simple metrics form the foundation for more advanced analysis, and the concept can be easily applied to other data sources.

Social Data: Increasingly relevant as it continues to drive fan sentiment and helps us create more opportunities for fan engagement. It is closely related to fan profile and is captured with similar patterns of transaction data.

But there are differences. Counting the likes or tweets is one thing, which needs very little investment and knowhow, while analyzing fan sentiment or drawing correlations between multi-channel marketing campaigns is a new field of expertise that requires both content and social engagement strategy.

Bottom Line

The goal is not to invest in all data, but harvest only what contributes directly to our strategic goals. Data alone doesn’t guarantee better decisions, only the raw material for better-informed decisions.

It starts and ends with leadership; our success depends on it more than any other piece. Technical knowhow alone won’t guarantee a successful outcome; our team’s talent and passion will be the determining factor. And the right technology solutions will make it possible.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Fan Experience Matters series.

Connect with me on Twitter (@KaanTurnali), LinkedIn and

The Fan Experience Matters Series:

Overview | Analyzing the Formula | Data Is a Strategic Asset | Fan Insight Through Data | Design Elements | The Essence of Fan Journey