By Chris Lee
The London 2012 Olympic Games have been dubbed the first “social” games with one billion people expected to share Olympic content online due to the prevalence of smart phones and high usage of social networks. This looks only set to increase as we look towards the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
During the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Twitter had just six million users while Facebook had 140 million. Fast-forward four years and Twitter has 140 million-plus users and Facebook has surpassed 900 million.
The Olympic Games’ worldwide IT partner is Atos has published a report into what it believes future Olympics will look like.
Future social games
According to Atos, social media has so far revolved around people, but in the future it will increasingly revolve around events. Social networks will act as brokers, helping athletes appear more attractive to sponsors, offering select discounts and selling products.
By 2020, Atos predicts a 3,000 per cent increase in data traffic and that social media will act like a TV channel. Just as one would choose a channel on TV, users will choose a social channel which offers them the content and interaction that they desire at that particular time, for example, just the Olympic 2020 social channel.
In addition, Atos’ social media expert Jan Krans expects a much greater percentage of text communication to be voice-generated rather than typed. “[This] will make it much easier to update your status or message your friends on the fly – perhaps while you’re driving or, if you’re an athlete, even while taking part in sport,” he said, thanks to the accessibility of cloud technology.
“After an event, fans will be able to re-live some of the moments; you can’t rewind a live sports event, so you mark some of the events for later analysis or playback. Clubs will create a community where fans discuss specific moments in the game,” he added.
The increasing role of Big Data
“Big Data” – the access to a wealth of information based on user activity – is already impacting the way sports performance directors and coaches make decisions and going forward this is only going to get even more honed, according to Atos.
Currently talent spotting is a major expense in sport, but Atos believes that social media will change the scouting progress with clubs tapping into their fan base to find talent.
“As in the phrase ‘the wisdom of crowds’, you will go to the social networks to find out who is being talked about and who is being recommended as an up-and-coming talent,” Atos said.
CelestinoGüemes is head of solutions research and development at Atos Worldgrid Spain. He argues that historically data has come from relatively simple, one-dimensional sources, but in the future we’ll be able to aggregate input from a much broader field; for example social data, as well as automatic video analysis and smart biometric clothes and equipment.
“It means that athletes and their coaches will be able to get a much more rounded, qualitative view of their performance, both in training and during play,” he added.
To help crowds and athletes alike make the most of technology, stadiums themselves need to be connected. Jordi Cuartero, Chief Technology Officer at Atos Major Events, says that this process is already underway.
“All the major manufacturers of connectivity devices are now building solutions for covering high-density wireless networks and technology providers are preparing themselves to implement these kinds of solutions,” he said.
London 2012 could just be the start of a global cultural shift in the way technology and social media impacts the Olympic experience. Rio 2016 will be very interesting.