Professional sports teams have been using data to improve their win-loss record for some time now, but the Vancouver Canucks are using data to improve other areas beyond the scoreboard.

The NHL team partnered with SAP to build better relationships with fans. The Canucks average more than three million fans during the season, which lasts 82 games (41 at home in the Rogers Arena). Then there are playoff games on top of that schedule. The Canucks have implementing SAP Hybris Marketing, a real-time multi-channel e-commerce product content management platform, to learn more about their fans and then create more personalized experiences during the games.

Hybris has a distinct Canadian element. SAP acquired Hybris in 2013, but before that Hybris was merged with Canadian software maker ICongo in 2011. The software enables users to gain customer insights in real-time. From there the Canucks plan to develop customer profiles in an attempt to better understand the people who attend games.

Besides Hybris, the Canucks are also using SAP Cloud Customer 4 and the in-memory database HANA with the goal to deliver more relevant digital services to the more than 18,000 fans that go to the game.

John Graham, the Managing Director at SAP Canada, said the rise of big data and social media presents a unique opportunity for sports franchises. Fans are particularly open to and passionate about engaging with their teams. This means it’s possible for teams to build a powerful real-time picture of what their fans want and will respond to, right down to an individual level.

Solution provider Ecenta Canada Services Inc. of Vancouver did the implementation work for the Canucks. It involved:

  • Fan Scoring – Identifying, defining, and scoring fan segments to enable more intelligent fan marketing and engagement.
  • Membership Churn – Real-time insights into fan propensity to attend games, engage with the organization and renew season tickets.
  • Automated Campaigns – Marketing and sales activities, such as email deal alerts and reminders based on previous fan engagement, are automated.
  • Sales Intelligence – Fan insights (e.g. favorite player) enable sales and customer service representatives to have more relevant conversations with fans and create stronger relationships.

According to Ecenta, the Canucks have a fan base that spreads across Western Canada and across the globe. The team engages with its fans through its Web site, social and mobile platforms such as Canucks.com, Ticketmaster.ca, Facebook, and Twitter. A key element is to track fan behaviour. One of the top data points the Canucks wanted to know was how many games a typical fan attends live.

The solution used Hybris to create a fan data hub using data from TicketMaster. This solution enabled the team to gain insights from its most important fan base – season seat holders.

In future, the SAP system is able to capture in-arena data and from social media to help the team meet specific fan requests and expectations.

Graham added that understanding the fans and using that data to personalize their experience is not only about making fans happier, but also about helping sales and marketing reach them more meaningfully to maximize revenue opportunities.

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