Kicking Off a New Era

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

The New Meadowlands Stadium is one enterprise using digital media to manage workloads and enhance customers experiences.

Kicking Off a New Era

It’s no surprise that the Internet and mobile technology have disrupted—and forever changed—distribution models, advertising, marketing and merchandising. However, few industries have felt the impact more than media and entertainment, in which business models are undergoing radical change. Yet, at the same time, better networking, database and analytics capabilities have made it possible to understand customer behavior and create more powerful ways to distribute and sell products and services.

“It is absolutely essential for entertainment and media companies to know as much as possible about customers and develop processes and strategies that connect to them effectively,” White explains. Analytics is frequently at the center of an IT focus, but other technologies that enter the picture include cloud computing, social networking, content management, mobile applications and digital distribution. Many of these capabilities are ultimately driven by more powerful hardware and server virtualization.

It’s a concept that Brickman at New Meadowlands understands. Over the last three years, working with both the Giants and Jets, he and team executives have assembled a state-of-the-art environment that redefines sports entertainment and marketing. Cisco Stadium Vision technology presents live game footage, team trivia, news and weather information. It also allows stadium operators to change the venue’s color scheme, content and team branding—from Giants blue to Jets green—with the push of a few buttons.

Meanwhile, a Verizon and Cisco partnership delivers 34 channels of customized HD content to the stadium. This allows fans to simultaneously view multiple games and other content in select areas of the facility.

Verizon also installed a wireless network throughout the stadium, providing fans with access to relevant sports and entertainment content. Finally, luxury suites are equipped with digital technologies that allow patrons to use touch-screens to order concession items, as well as control broadcast channels and other digital content.

Assembling the infrastructure was a complex task. The stadium includes 10,000 access points for ubiquitous WiFi coverage and more than 1,000 point-of-sale devices. Operators use advanced analytics to track buying patterns and generate instant promotions to reduce food and merchandise inventory.

These systems, along with the 2,200 screens and a 70-channel Verizon FiOS HD video system, are tied into an IP network running on Cisco 6500 switches. More than 125 Dell servers control the infrastructure, which provides “obsolescence proofing.” Altogether, New Meadowlands invested more than $100 million in technology; the overall cost of the stadium exceeded $1.6 billion.

PwC’s White believes that entertainment and media companies are becoming savvier about how they approach technology. In the past, organizations typically handled media production, distribution and consumer-oriented tasks from distinct departments that weren’t part of IT—often relying on operations or engineering executives to make decisions. However, over the last few years, companies have begun to merge IT operations and build a single infrastructure. “There is a major push to bring these two worlds together,” he says.

The need for a converged IT infrastructure is rooted in efficiency and costs, White says. As digital distribution takes hold, a growing number of organizations are looking for ways to manage the process in a more streamlined way—while gleaning data about buying and consumption patterns.

“The reality is that consumers view products in an entirely different way [now], and media and entertainment companies are being forced to adapt,” he points out. “The repercussions are rippling through the supply chain and forcing everyone to take a more integrated approach.”

This article was originally published on 2010-12-09
Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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