‘We want to provide solutions in sports’

B Baskar | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on March 29, 2015


Chris Burton, COO of SAP, has been a marketing executive for more than 15 years in the company and has built a network of marketing partnerships over the years. “We have 50 partnerships across the world which use SAP technology to solve the problems in sport and also showcases how SAP is useful in our daily lives. My job is to bring the brand to life,” he says, in an interview in Melbourne just before India faced off Bangladesh in the World Cup quarter finals. Edited excerpts:  

What is SAP’s role in this ICC World Cup?

In cricket, our foremost priority was to provide the fans with a robust platform where they can consume the 40 years of World Cup history. Today, 3.4 million people have downloaded the app which we have developed for the ICC. We have also developed some fabulous tools for the ICC for this World Cup.

What else is SAP doing in the world of sport?

SAP realised a couple of years ago that our world was in the midst of a fundamental transformation. There is a new breed of buyer, which is consuming SAP or any other technology. We also realised that the virtual explosion of mobile devices has transformed technology. So many people are now connected, thanks to mobile devices. So, we needed to reach out to a new type of audience. We identified that the most powerful way to tell the story was through the world of sport, something our audience are passionate about. But it might be an area other than sport such as solving problems in the areas of healthcare or literacy. 

When did the sporting connection start?

We started very early with venues actually. Our first big partnership was in SAP Arena in Mannheim in Germany which is our headquarters. After this, we were closely involved with sailing and football. In sailing, we used our technology to help the sailors evolve a winning strategy. Our focus in sailing was on how to bring the action closer to the fans.

In football, it was really simple – there were two areas, one was to enhance fan experience and the other was to enhance player performance. Our challenge was to use technology to help a player improve his or her performance. Now the interesting thing is if you focus on fan engagement and player performance in sport, that translates into so many other industries. So many of the tools and strategies that we adopt in the world of sport are equally relevant in the world of business. That is our core strategy.

How does SAP technology help in driving player performance?

The first aspect is scouting for players. In India, we work with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and we help them in the player auction process and help them scout for the best players. That’s based on the HANA cloud platform.

Who are the other major stakeholders in the field of sports you serve?

The magic piece of the pie of the stakeholders that we serve is the venue. So what can we do to make the venue run to its best? The next piece of the pie is the operational aspect. How do we help manage the team as a business? The next crucial piece of the pie is player performance. The last piece of the pie is the fan engagement.

(The writer was in Melbourne at the invitation of SAP)

(The writer was in Melbourne at the invitation of SAP)

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Published on March 29, 2015
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