Manchester United, undoubtedly, is one of the most popular football clubs in the world. Popularly known as Man United, this professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, competes in the Premier League and has won more trophies than any other club. With over 650 million fans across the globe, Man United was the highest-earning football club in the world last year with an annual revenue of 676.3 million pounds, and the world’s most valuable football club in the year 2018 at 3.1 billion pounds.
A certain initiative that Manchester United undertook about 2 and a half years ago, which reached the pinnacle recently has raised a few eyebrows in the IT world. Manchester United announced a major milestone on its digital transformation journey with HCL Technologies, with the successful launch of the Manchester United Official app powered by HCL’s digital experience platform last month via a press release. In a bid to make Manchester United a Digital Sports Enterprise, the app aims at providing a real-time, engaging, personalized, and unified experience to Manchester United’s 659 million global followers.
The partnership is expected to be mutually beneficial for both HCL Technologies and Manchester United. Not only does the app provide a platform for Manchester United to directly engage with its fan base, but is also advantageous to HCL Technologies. In an interaction with DataQuest, Ashish Kumar Gupta, Corporate Vice President – ITO and Infrastructure Services Sales EMEA, HCL Technologies, tells a little more about this partnership, how it is favorable to both parties and some salient features of the app.
Manchester United Sets Foot into Digitization
Manchester United is an iconic club with a 150 year old heritage and over 650 million fans across the globe, but their whole business model is very ‘physical’, says Mr Ashish Gupta. Manchester United has about 150 million fans on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram who were relying on these mediums for content on Manchester United. The problem the football club faced due to this is that they had no claim over the data acquired by these platforms as they did not belong to them. HCL Technologies therein realized this issue, and created a platform where Manchester United could interact directly with their fans. Even if half of the 650 million fans come onto this digital platform over a period of time, it could result in large forward commerce for the football club, says Mr Gupta.
To create this platform, over the past two years HCL Technologies worked with every stakeholder in Man United namely editorial or content team, players, merchandises, Manchester United communities, and so on. Through fostering greater fan engagement globally and attaining greater insight into their digital preferences and behavior, Manchester United will be able to create new business models and better monetize its digital real-estate.
What’s in the Partnership for HCL?
HCL Technologies probably could not have asked for anybody better than Manchester United to show their customers that they are capable of creating the best product at the scale as large as the premium football club to aid in their digital transformation. “Technology has moved from back end to front end, and digital transformation is a buzzword and something that’s happening with all our customers”, says Mr Gupta. This partnership is also a means for HCL Technologies to communicate with a larger enterprise market.
HCL can also take this platform to other media companies, sports franchises or broadcasters. This platform is almost like product, which the company can carry from one customer to another, says Mr Gupta. Also, a lot of fans of Manchester United may comprise of CIOs or enterprise customers who will come to know of and reach out to HCL Technologies. Apart from the CIOs, there are hundreds of advertisers working with Manchester United who are now also working with HCL Technologies, so revenue realization of this platform is something that will be seen in the next few quarters, says Mr Gupta.
Cutting Edge Features of the App
The app is being widely downloaded on Android and iOS platforms within a few weeks of its launch. The app is within the top ten sports apps in about 328 countries. People are also providing the app with good ratings on App Store and Google Play. As users download the app and more data gets aggregated, newer features will be introduced to the app, says Mr Gupta. Cutting edge features of the app are that it is a real time app which provides the club’s content editors unmatched publishing speed and the app also has the best visualization engine created in house using AR and VR technologies that makes it even more immersive and engaging than the apps that are already present in the market, he adds.