How Innovation and Analytics Drive Transformation for the SF Giants
Bill Schlough, CIO, San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants’ mission is: Dedicated to enriching community through innovation and excellence on and off the field. (Unofficially, they want to win the world series every year!) This mission helps them focus on many areas of the overall team, such as the fans, the business, and the players.
The Giants have truly embraced their mission with many innovations: they were the first team to launch secondary market for tickets (prior to StubHub), first LEED certified stadium, first to launch Apple Pay, first to have free Wi-Fi for fans, and more.
When considering the fan experience, what they found was that the home viewing experience in the past was better than at the ballpark, because of the announcer and copious replays that are not allowed to be shown in the park itself. They had to think holistically, everything from the game, seats, food, scoreboard, bathrooms, and connectivity.
But when competing against “the home couch,” the Giants found spikes of mobile traffic around the NBA Finals, the PGA Masters, and during NFL games, so they embraced these concepts and now broadcast other game updates during their game. Little things like that have made it more comfortable for fans to attend games.
On the business side, they wanted to know “What's the ROI of a Like?” They were able to see geographically where their fans base is, per zip code. Found that they have a strong base outside of SF, in Hawaii and some parts of Oregon. That type of data allows them to maximize advertising, outreach, and more.
Technology is making a huge impact to baseball players, and the Giants have fully embraced this concept. The game is changing with players hitting more Home Runs last year than ever before, but also having more strikeouts than ever before. This is because data is helping teams change from conventional thinking, such as having people throw less innings, or the main “Starting” pitcher is not the first to throw, or helping outfielders shift to anticipate where the hitter will put the ball in play.
While these changes may improve a team’s performance, unfortunately, ratings are declining because fans love Home Runs, but not strikeouts. To counter these declines, the Giants are using the player analytics improve both the team and build fan loyalty.
Ultimately, Bill found that innovation does not always equal short-term success, but it does help the long-term, and the long-term is better.