KMD Wants to Improve Sports with Data


By making use of data, KMD is helping the sports industry optimise both sports performance and the underlying business. For KMD themselves, the investment is also a way of ensuring happier employees and fresh innovation.

By making use of data, KMD is helping the sports industry optimise both sports performance and the underlying business. For KMD themselves, the investment is also a way of ensuring happier employees and fresh innovation.

This article is sponsored by KMD – one of the partners making “Sportstech 2021” possible.

KMD’s large, cumbersome IT solution is usually associated with state and communal projects. But the IT giant is far more than punched cards and local data. Just a few years ago, KMD began developing sportstech solutions.

The company’s first major foray into the world of sports was through a partnership with the Danish League, which represents Danish football clubs in the country’s top-level tournaments. When KMD contacted the association in 2017, they were in the process of collecting data on football court activities – including the positional data on players and balls that are used in media and broadcasting.

“It was a huge media gimmick measuring which players did the most running and ran the fastest. After some back and forth with the Danish League on the possibilities, we saw the data having much larger potential. The sports industry is in dire need of digitalisation – including companies with large revenues,” says Christian Binggeli-Winter, Vice President for Information Management & Analytics at KMD.

Christian Bingelli-Winter (Large)

From Gimmick to Business Tool

First step in the partnership was to secure ownership rights over the data and collect it in data warehouse that all the clubs could access. That set up step two: making it possible to translate the data into possibilities and solutions useful to the clubs in their day-to-day operations.

How do the football clubs ensure they are properly informed when the right player is available on the transfer market – not because they have contact with the player, but because the data suggests they’re a good fit? What correlations does the data show between what happens at practice and the results of a match? And is it possible to automatise reporting on each player’s performance after a match?

“Data can be used for so much more than just checking who ran the most and who needs to be substituted because their heart rate is too high. In the big picture, the data can show whether a club is on the right track in terms of both sports and business. And by seeing a football club as a professional business operating on professional strategies, we can start challenging and amending those strategies with the help of data,” says Binggeli-Winter.

Today, KMD works not just with football, but have partnered with ice hockey and handball associations too. Additionally, they work directly with multiple clubs, and are in talks with Olympic athletes.

KMD is convinced that their work primarily affects community spirit and openness. The data needs to belong to the clubs, and everyone, not just the clubs, must be able to create value from it.

That is why the data is being used to formulate actionable solutions and tools. For instance, a VR-solution meant to help players visualise a match situation in advance. Or a platform that collects data on sleep to identify and improve upon sleep’s effect on performance. And most recently, a solution to operate the entire commercial aspect of a club from a data-oriented starting point – everything from the sponsorship deals to ticket sales.

“We need to reinvent ourselves and not just deliver a one-time service. And that’s why we have developed so many exciting solutions around these goods ideas alongside experts and start-ups. We want to match with partners who excel in their own field – we just need to be there to help create the data’s ecosystem,” says Binggeli-Winter.

Innovation and Happy Employees

For KMD, the investment in sportstech is far cry from its other solution, which largely provides systems for pensioning and unemployment benefits. But that might be why the venture has made other dividends than just more income.

“The sports industry takes its work very seriously, because very little separates third place from fourth place. And I believe that we, as an organisation, can learn much from these projects, as we often apply new technologies and methods to create improvements measured in just a few percentile points,” says Binggeli-Winter.

At the same time, he argues that this creates happier employees, as they get to use their data-related competences in ways related to their spare time passions. And that rubs off on other areas within KMD.

“In the sports industry, we have sometimes been pushing ourselves very hard when we were stumped, until at last we find a solution – which we then can bring back and make into new tech products that may be interesting to apply elsewhere. We are so used to having so much data in the public sector that we sometimes forget to ask ourselves if we have the right data, or if we should do something differently. In this way, sportstech is helping us push against our standard patterns,” says Binggeli-Winter.

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