NBA Site Is a Winner With the Fans
By Eileen Feretic
Many companies talk about interacting with their customers on a regular basis and vastly improving the customer experience, but a relatively few have actually achieved that holy grail of CRM. The National Basketball Association (NBA) is among that elite group.
The NBA's success is due in large part to CIO Michael Gliedman and his team, who turned a static Website into an exciting and interactive one for the teams, the media and the fans: NBA.com/Stats. At a recent dinner hosted by SAP, Gliedman described the effort that went into this undertaking.
"Incorporating our entire history of statistics—dating back to the 1946-47 inaugural season—was a huge undertaking," he told the attendees. "Working with SAP, we were able to unveil the most comprehensive and official NBA statistical destination. The site performs great, and provides our fans, media and teams with instant access to 4.5 quadrillion combinations of NBA statistics.
"Overall, the success of NBA.com/Stats contributed to NBA.com setting all-time records this season, with more than 9.5 billion page views.”
That's quite a change from a few years ago, when only basic statistics were available to fans. Then, last year, NBA Commissioner David Stern asked Gliedman's organization to create a site that would enable the fans to interact with all NBA statistics, and then slice and dice them as they desired.
"The color drained out of my face," Gliedman admitted. Despite the enormity of the challenge, he and his team set to work building the new stats engine and Website.
The organization wanted to create a site that was "fully interactive, had a lot of good content, and was very visual and colorful," he said. "And we wanted all our fans to be able to access the site and also ask questions."
To achieve those goals, Gliedman worked with SAP and deployed its High Performance Analytics Appliance (HANA) platform. "We built the site in six months," he said.
NBA.com/Stats provides play-by-play data going back to 1966, plus box scores for the last 50 years. Fans can access and interact during the games, and there's even an event slider that enables them to move back in time during games.
The site can handle 250 queries a second, Gliedman said, and 20,000 people can be on the site at the same time with no degradation of performance. Redundancy and disaster recovery are built in to protect against lost data and downtime.
HANA in-memory provided this capability, Gliedman said, adding that the site would have crashed under the load without in-memory. "We haven't had one issue yet," he reported.
The result of these improvements? Fan engagement is up. According to Gliedman, fans spend twice as much time, on average, on the site as they used to, and the number of fan emails has grown significantly. In addition, sponsorship has increased.
The NBA plans to add video, data visualization and predictive tools using SAP Lumira and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer software. Plus, he said that the mobile-friendly site will look even better on a greater variety of devices.
"We're adding enhancement to the site every three weeks," Gliedman said. "We're done with the heavy lifting. Now it's time for the fun stuff."