Sep 04 2014

NFL Readies Its Technology for the New Season

BizTech highlights the Kansas City Chiefs’ Wi-Fi upgrades and new UC tools for the Houston Texans.

Diehard fans who feel lost on summer weekends can rejoice: Football season is back. Today’s fans expect access to Wi-Fi and other customer service technologies when they attend games, and the NFL is responding.

Teams are embracing technology to improve both the gameday experience and overall franchise operations.

Owners are so adamant about the role of technology that, in 2012, they hired the league’s first CIO, Michelle McKenna-Doyle, to oversee the NFL’s technology strategy. She shares her thoughts on the future-state CIO in "Will the Future-State CIO Model Change the Role of IT Leadership?."

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In the most recent Harris Poll annual survey of adult American sports fans, 35 percent said NFL football is their favorite sport — making it the most popular sport in the country for the 30th straight year. NFL teams understand that keeping up with today’s fan expectations requires technology in the stadium as well as the front office.

Our story “Houston Texans Score Big with Major Tech Plays” reports on the Texans’ IT overhaul, which began in 2010 with a data center and enterprise network upgrade. In 2012, the team’s IT staff replaced an aging Voice over IP phone system to provide better quality voice and other unified communications features. Employees can now collaborate more effectively with fans, other staff and team members. The added bandwidth also assures a much faster wireless network is in place for players and coaches at the Texans’ nearby practice facility.

In “Kansas City Chiefs Fans Win With Wireless,” we detail how the Chiefs rolled out more than 600 wireless access points throughout Arrowhead Stadium to let fans call, text, post to social media and track other NFL games and Fantasy Football scores.

“If we’re going to get people to come out to the stadium, we have to give them access to the mobility and modern technologies they want,” says David Young, vice president of stadium operations.

It’s that kind of response that will help keep the NFL thriving for years to come. As everyone enjoys the upcoming season, BizTech is here to help readers think more critically about the many ways their ­companies can leverage technology to deliver high-quality customer — and fan — service, just like the NFL.