Using the Cloud to Build a Business
By Bob Violino
Data and video analytics is having a big impact on many aspects of business and society—including sports. Krossover, a New York-based company with the stated goal to "disrupt the current sports content, analytics and technology landscape," has developed a business based on delivering game films to coaches in high school and college sports.
The company began in 2008 as a project to help the University of Pennsylvania's basketball team make use of advanced statistics, and, since then, it has recruited a diverse team of technologists, designers and number-crunchers. Today, its servers store tens of thousands of games every season, and the company tracks millions of data points across thousands of teams and players.
Krossover's online platform is accessible by thousands of high school and college programs, and enables coaches to use video to improve the success of their athletic programs by eliminating the time and financial impediments of managing filmed content.
The company has the capability to syndicate its content to local and national media outlets through game recaps, box scores and highlight reels. The company recently announced the launch of a new gaming application that presents players with real-life basketball game scenarios in which the video freezes in the middle of a play, and users are given options on how they think the play will end.
Naturally, IT plays an extremely important role in the company's operations, and the cloud plays a big part in its ability to deliver analytics services to its customers.
"The technology our business runs on is almost entirely software-as-a-service offerings," says Sean McCleary, head of technology for Krossover. "We use Atlassian on Demand and Bitbucket to develop software, and Google Apps for email and collaboration.
"In terms of sales and marketing, we use a CRM [system] called close.io, which is optimized for our sales team and their frequent interaction with coaches. All marketing, support and sales are integrated with close.io for easy monitoring of our company's activities."
Every part of Krossover's infrastructure is in the cloud. "We use Amazon AWS for storing and delivering our millions of videos, as well as hosting our Web application," McCleary says. "We have built some pretty cool custom stuff within the AWS environment to minimize cost while maximizing server power and efficiency."
This environment "frees us up from having to run our own servers so we can focus on the business, and team members can get up and running on a new computer or mobile device in minutes," McCleary adds.
Every analytics tool Krossover uses was built in-house. "At the moment, we are sitting on massive mounds of data and the corresponding video, but we haven't done too much in terms of looking for trends across that information," McCleary says.
Recently however, the company undertook a small project that involved looking at what factors differentiate winning high school teams from losing ones.
Mobile and social technology also play key roles in the company's strategy. Every app it builds works automatically on tablet and desktop Web browsers, according to McCleary.
And social media "is key to the growth and influence of Krossover," he says. "Coaches and athletes are very active—on Twitter in particular—in seeking out new tips and strategies from their peers and more seasoned pros. Krossover's presence in the coaching community on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook has grown by leaps and bounds in the last year, as we've made an effort to be as active as our coaches are on these networks."