By: Amit Sharma – Chief Technology Officer, Dream11
In recent years, sports and technology have converged to provide Indian sports fans with an immersive, engaging viewing experience. The advent of technological innovations has taken the sports fans’ experience to a whole new level, and this is especially true in fantasy sports. Newer tech trends have emerged to provide impetus to this booming industry, and most businesses now rely on them for their scalability and sustainability.
100% Cloud presence – Startups are increasingly focusing on their product more than the infrastructure they need to run it, by leveraging the public clouds offered by cloud service providers like Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure) and Google (GCP). This public cloud allows companies to pay as you grow and access to an infinitely scalable platform. Although there are some security concerns around these public clouds, all these providers are working very hard to provide state-of-the-art security frameworks to secure user data and the product itself.
Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning – A multi-disciplinary domain with a balance of skills from academia to industry, AI augments human performance and is becoming a critical component at most startups right from the beginning. Its applications range from Computer Vision, Natural Language, Speech Recognition, Recommendation systems etc.. One very popular application of AI in recent times is the use of Chatbots to serve user queries instead of investing in a large customer service team. Startups are buying off the shelf machine learning products from companies like Haptik, Drift etc. to provide a readymade low manpower-based solution which scales automatically as user queries grow.
PWA – Progressive Web Apps take advantage of new technologies that bring in the best of web and native applications to users. PWA by design is supposed to be Reliable (Fast load times and offline experience), Fast (smooth experience on flaky networks, over the air updates) and Engaging (Home Screen experience and push notification capabilities). From a business standpoint, PWA works very well for user reach, acquisition and conversion. In a country like India that has a huge segment of low end mobile devices coupled with poor mobile data network, a lot of companies are investing in building a PWA as an alternative to their native app.
Blockchain – Blockchain is one of the emerging technologies which has already powered the core framework for digital currency Bitcoin, and is recently being looked at very closely for its application in other areas. According to Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016) , “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” A lot of companies are trying to identify ways to use this technology to power various use-cases in their products and the next few years could be very interesting in this space.
Augmented Reality – AR (Augmented Reality) provides an interactive experience to users by overlaying digital information on top of real-world environments. In contrast to VR (Virtual Reality) which creates a complete artificial environment and needs more investment both while building the product and from the user (headset), addition of AR to apps is relatively easier because of a platform provided by smartphone operating systems like iOS and Android. App developers are looking to enhance the features they already provide by adding a flavor of AR to it, with minimalistic effort leveraging the available platform.
Data Analytics – Phrases like “Data is the new Oil” or “Data is gold” has been catching on in the last few years. Companies have realized the potential of collecting and analyzing data about their users and how it helps them understand these users better. Almost every startup invests in a data analytics team which focuses only on this aspect of the business. Understanding a user base better than your competitor can provide you a huge competitive advantage. This Data can feed into various Machine Learning algorithms to build Models replacing human intervention in the product or sent to out of the shelf analytics providers like Clevertap, Web Engage etc. to run intelligent user engagement and lifecycle campaigns.
Open Source – The usage of proprietary software is decreasing and a lot of companies are now relying on open source software to build their products, be it the vanilla version or wrapped up as managed services by companies ( Datastax for Cassandra, Elasticache by Amazon for Redis). The increased adoption is building up the community and the fact that some of the largest companies in the world like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix are working-on/backing these open source technologies, provides the confidence to emerging startups to use these technologies in their production systems.
Microservices Architecture/ Intelligent Apps – Most sports apps these days cannot rely on their core playing experience for retaining and engaging their users. Therefore, they add a lot of other functionality in the app like loyalty programs, multiple payment options, virtual currency etc. The increased complexity makes the backend architecture more complex and therefore, companies are moving towards a microservices-driven modular architecture in the backend. These services have isolated responsibilities and power different sections of the apps, making sure that in case of issues/outages, apps provide a graceful degraded performance to its users instead of not working completely.