SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2011/In Depth

Talking trends with tech execs

Spadaro
LORRAINE SPADARO

Vice president, technology and eBusiness

Delaware North Cos. / TD Garden

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Mobile enhancing the customer experience at events through video, buy-fi mobile ordering, and interactivity with the fan from event to living room.”
Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Wi-Fi and mobile infrastructure to support delivering interactive apps to fans’ mobile devices.”

Schloss
MARK STROSS

Chief technology officer
ANC Sports Enterprises

Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Content management and bandwidth allocation managing exponentially growing assets.”
Biggest misperception about IT: “IT professionals simply want the newest gadgets in the industry.”
Key strategic role a CTO should play within an organization: “To inspire innovative, revenue-enhancing concepts.”

Sullivan
J
OHN SULLIVAN

Vice president, information technology
Major League Soccer

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “The cloud. Cloud-based services enable organizations to quickly deploy scalable applications without worrying about hardware management.”
Organization that sports entities can learn the most from with regard to technology: “The mobile industry. Mobile Internet usage continues to soar, and at some point in the near future, we will have more mobile Internet users than desktop connected users.”
Within your organization, IT’s role is strategic in that it: “Has a responsibility to support and provide solutions for many different business units.”

Quinn
STEVE QUINN

Chief technology officer
XOS Digital

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Cloud services and mobile devices will provide new opportunities in sports analysis and coaching services. On the consumer front, connected TV and other online viewing experiences will continue to grow.”
Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Security. As more products and services are hosted, we need to ensure client and content security is maintained, and we need to prove it to our customers.”
Within your organization, IT’s role is strategic in that it: “Provides a secure, supportable and scalable infrastructure allowing us to support our partners and end-users.”

Inzerillo
JOE INZERILLO

Senior vice president, multimedia and distribution
MLB Advanced Media

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Near field communications. If you look at what is happening in other parts of the world, people are using NFC-equipped cell phones for everything from train tickets to point-of-sale purchase.”
Biggest misperception about IT: “That the ‘T’ often gets missed. People hear IT and they think e-mail servers and printers, all of which are important. What sports really pushes, or at least tries to push, is technology. Few other industries push consumer technology like sports.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “Like good design. Done well, it is invisible.”

Mazza
D
AVID MAZZA

Senior vice president, engineering
NBC Olympics

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Over-the-top, Internet-delivered video.”
Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Escalating rights fees not leaving enough budget for the production quality that everyone has come to expect.”
Within your organization, IT’s role is strategic in that: “Everything has an Internet protocol address now. All of us are having to adapt, and we have yet to exploit all of the possibilities.”

Gliedman
MICHAEL GLIEDMAN

Senior vice president, chief information officer
NBA

Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Enhancing in-venue wireless performance for our fans. It is a combination of improving both 3G/4G and Wi-Fi as newer devices can move seamlessly between the two.”
Piece of in-stadium technology that should be added to the in-home experience: “We’re working on replicating the immersive experience you get at an NBA game with HP Labs to create a triple-wide 3-D viewing experience, and second- and third-screen apps that will allow fans to interact with friends and family the way they do when they’re at a live game.”
Piece of at-home technology that should be added to the in-venue experience: “Our NBA.com StatsCube is a very powerful computer-based analytical tool that we developed to allow users to perform complex stats analysis very quickly. Future generations of the tool will be great for fans to take to games with them.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “How can I make my business area run better through technology? Our role has changed from traditional IT order-takers/service providers to business partners. And at the NBA, my department is truly at the heart of the game.”

Choti
JOE CHOTI

Senior vice president, chief technology officer
Tickets.com / MLB Advanced Media

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Internet mobility and platform consolidation. Devices are getting smaller and more powerful. This will allow fans to carry around small handheld devices capable of a fully immersive experience.”
Biggest misperception about IT: “It’s not binary. IT organizations are not just a collection of geeky people pushing around ones and zeroes.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “What, when and how. IT’s role is to be the silent enabler delivering the fan what they want, when they want it and how they ask for it.”

Cobra
TONY COBA

Senior vice president, chief information officer
Miami Heat

Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “The need for improved in-venue Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G wireless carrier coverage. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets at sporting events, venues are struggling with inadequate wireless carrier coverage.”
Piece of in-stadium technology that should be added to the in-home fan experience / Piece of at-home technology that should be added to the in-stadium experience: “The challenge is not so much determining which technology to use to deliver content, but rather the reorganization of delivery of content in ways that enhances the overall fan experience.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “Strategic and operational.”

Brian Kopp
BRIAN KOPP

Vice president, strategy and development
Stats LLC

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Real-time motion capture. Microsoft started it with Kinect in the home and with the upcoming release of their software development kit. We should expect an explosion in applications leveraging this unique technology.”
Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Allowing sports viewers to have more control over their experience, no matter where they are. As devices get more interactive and functional, and the amount of real-time data available increases, there will be tremendous pressure on technology professionals to deliver the most relevant information, applications and experiences in a timely and relevant fashion.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “Crucial to remaining the world’s leader in real-time sports statistics. We are growing from a data delivery company into a robust content, technology and solutions provider — all built on the back of a strong IT infrastructure.”


Walsh
PETE WALSH

Chief information officer
Dallas Cowboys

Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Fulfilling fan expectations. With so many mobile device options, all venues will have to evaluate their mobility road map to determine what steps they will take to ensure fans get the applications requested to ‘up’ the fan experience.”
Piece of in-stadium technology that should be added to the in-home experience: “Instant stats and different camera angles so you can watch what you want to watch and not what the network wants you to see.”
Piece of at-home technology that should be added to the in-venue experience: “Better seating and better sound. Plastic seats for $100,000 a year? Come on! And there is new technology that will allow stadium sound to be easy on the ears and with no echo.”
Within your organization IT’s role can be defined as: “At the stadium, everything runs on a computer … So it’s pretty strategic to the running of each event.”

ESPN
CHUCK PAGANO

Executive vice president, technology, engineering and operations
ESPN

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Next-generation broadband wireless. More devices, including TV sets, are going the route of connected media, and content will be pushed out via the easiest receptor.”
Biggest misperception about IT: “That they are a separate function from the operations side. At ESPN, IT is embedded in everything we do.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “A parallel to our content technology efforts, and both are required to push the technological bar higher collectively.”

Nancy Galietti
NANCY GALIETTI

Vice president, information technology
NFL

Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Technology has moved from a back-office support function to the forefront with critical implications for business growth and fan engagement. There are so many emerging technologies and innovative ideas, the challenge is twofold: having the smart business judgment on what to pursue, and having the scale and ability to execute and deliver great products and solutions.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “One that helps the NFL respond cost-effectively to changing business needs, and gain a competitive advantage by promoting innovation and growth.”

Schlough
BILL SCHLOUGH

Chief information officer
San Francisco Giants

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “The long-awaited arrival of the mobile wallet and how this impacts the ballpark experience, from concessions to ticketing, to micropayments for virtual amenities.”
Most technologically advanced sports facility is: “A fallacy. Fans don’t come to sports facilities for the technology. They come to be entertained.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “A strategic enabler of team success on and off the field and integral part of the fan experience.”

DelGiacco
PETER DELGIACCO

Executive vice president, chief technology officer
NHL

Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Building and maintaining an IT organization that has the skills to identify new technologies that can enhance the fan experience, build infrastructures to ensure timely distribution of information to fans and partners, and design workflows that deliver content to multiple platforms.”
Piece of in-stadium technology that should be added to the in-home fan experience: “Higher-quality audio, access to multiple camera angles, and rich companion PC experience to replicate the multisensory experience of sitting in the arena.”
Piece of at-home technology that should be added to the in-stadium experience: “Fast Internet connectivity.”

Jordan
ROBERT JORDAN

Vice president, design and construction
New Meadowlands Stadium

Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Integration and adoption. The bandwidth requirements of a fully attended event with high adoption of devices exceeds the present-day capabilities of the digital domain. Integrating all of the disparate sources of data and platforms will require a paradigm shift in the use and reuse of the available data.”
Piece of in-stadium technology that should be added to the in-home fan experience: “What will make inroads is any device that can accurately portray the compelling nature of the live event. The advent of 3-D, surround sound, alternate viewing angles when used as a holistic program will bring ‘live’ into the home.”
Piece of at-home technology that should be added to the in-stadium experience: “Technology should be used to enhance the entire experience, the ingress, the food and beverage, the way-finding, as well as the requisite video, statistics, and the commonly stated broadcast graphics and information.”

Michael Her
MICHAEL HER

Executive vice president, research and development
NeuLion

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Near field communications and related applications, such as mobile payment and in-venue NFC smart mobile apps.”
Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Providing applications and services on various mobile and connected devices.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “Partnership with our customers.”

Wifall
RICHARD WIFALL

Chief technology officer
EA Sports

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Our video games today produce huge amounts of complex real-time data about how our consumers play, down to the player, team and feature. The technology we’ll be talking about in two years is how we turn that into a two-way pipeline, where the data gathered is analyzed for customer behavior, then automatically changes the product to improve the customer experience. This will allow us to go beyond just having a direct relationship with the customer, but being able to tailor the product specifically to the customer.”
Biggest challenge facing sports IT: “Keeping up with the increasing complexity and quantity of our digital content. With the ever-quicker speed of change in technology, it is critical that we are able to create content quickly to allow us to take advantage of new business opportunities and reduce costs, all while continuing to increase the quality of our customer experiences.”
Within your organization, IT’s role is strategic in that it: “Is the platform on which our experiences are built. It’s what enables us to build award-winning games and introduce the authentic and true-to-life sports features that our fans love.”

Zoppi
STEVE ZOPPI

Chief technology officer
Sportvision

New technology we’ll be talking about in two years: “Probably the same ones we’re buzzing about today, except the buzz about how mature they are. Moore’s Law will help drive affordable distribution and much greater utility of handheld and portable devices. People will have their in-venue and at-home experiences unified through these portable devices.”
Key strategic role a CTO should play within an organization: “Varied, based on the company’s core competencies. But placing the right investment ‘bets’ into inventions and infrastructure partnerships is a great place to start. Informed by league, team and fan interests, the constellation of technologies required to deliver these features are hard to develop and require some foundation planning. The final results need to be flexible, resilient and scalable.”

Dill
CHRIS DILL

Vice president, chief information officer
Portland Trail Blazers

New technology we’ll all be talking about in two years: “Near-field communication and location-based services are both coming on fast and in two years will be very much a part of everyday life. NFC will help make the phone the wallet as well as your ticket to events, sporting and otherwise. The LBS, tied to social networks, will be very prevalent in knowing who, where and when based on your social or business relationships and where you are at the time.”
Biggest misperception about IT: “IT is often judged by downtime versus uptime and that is just the way it is. I am not sure the people realize that IT is a 7 by 24 by 365 responsibility.”
Within your organization, IT’s role can be defined as: “Integrated into the fabric of the business here at the Rose Quarter, which includes the Trail Blazers, AEG and Ovations. Its goals are to help the research, implement and support technologies that help assist the different business lines in their efforts to reach their department goals.”
— Compiled by Eric Fisher

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