Five things we learned from the Digital Sport Innovation conference

On Monday at Hotel Football, we were treated to a host of different speakers from across a range of topics. Such was the diversity of talks, we covered data, new government regulations, emerging technologies, social media and fan engagement and yet only one topic in particular: innovation.

As we look back on the day, though, we thought we’d get founder of Dan McLaren’s most important takeaways from the event. Here are Dan’s five things he learned from the day – and the five he considers the most important:

May 2018 should be etched onto everyone’s brain

Fiona Green told us that next May, in 2018, the government will introduce new legislation around how companies can use data. These regulations will have an impact on everyone using data, and will require the data ‘processor’ to do more work, putting many more responsibilities on companies than they have now.

It will be important for the industry not just to know about this change to the law, but to prepare for it well in advance.

No matter what you do start with the why

In fact, if you listened to Michael Broughton’s talk at the Digital Sport Innovation conference, it could well be ‘No matter what you do, start with reading Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”.’ Then think about the ‘why’.

The digital and social media platforms that so help sport are shared spaces, and as such it can be tempting to jump on bandwagons just because they are popular. But perhaps it’s better to think of them as tools to use whenever they’re appropriate for what you’re doing. Sport is a community business and that’s the mindset we should have.

Distorted video is the lowest hanging fruit

From Alex Trickett’s talk, we learned that, in order to engage an audience with the point you’re attempting to make, starting with distorted video is really the easiest way of doing it. Even if it seems the simplest and perhaps the least sophisticated way of outputting video.

There are also challenges with all the other forms of video engagement on social media. Live video is problematic as you need rights to make it work. If you’re using VR, you’re saddled with tech barriers and – at least for now – the fact that not everyone will be able to access it. Heightened or Interactive video meanwhile, is editorially heavy.

Customer Personas

Boots has three types of personas that customers fall into, all are female. Netflix has over 30,000! Clearly knowing your audience and being able to use your data to profile them will be hugely beneficial.

Data Standardisation is key to good strategy

Making sure data is standardised, and coupling that with a data policy will be key to digital strategy going forward. Importantly, other things like VR and connected stadiums, are built on top of the data and data strategy you employ.


Keep an eye out for future DS event details on here and Twitter. The next planned event is on 5th July alongside the organisers of Ireland’s FECKK conference. It will be at Brighton’s AMEX Stadium with the theme being Fan Engagement – speakers/agenda to be announced in the coming weeks.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 233 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and a regular contributor to Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan91

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