Bracketology for business

March Madness has tipped off and many basketball fans have put in their bracket. The NCAA Tournament usually means productivity drops significantly in offices across Canada and the U.S. as fans keep one eye on their bracket.

Since most of the games start at 12 o’clock Eastern and run past mid-night the action never seems to stop.

But one company is trying to mesh the passion for March Madness with that of business productivity.

Creative Director of SapientRazorfish, Chad Borlase is using technology to enable fans to engage with the tournament, while gaining new data insights on fan engagement. SapientRazorfish has already developed fan engagement technology for Canada Basketball and created the Miami Heat’s mobile wallet app.

“What we try to do is re-imagine business for our clients and it requires radical thinking. Data is interesting from a creative standpoint because it brings a democratization of knowledge so that you can be more successful. What we try and do is make the experience emotionally relevant. Therefore, sport is so great because it’s about wins and losses,” Borlase said.

An example of this is the Miami Heat app, which was modeled after a financial services company’s own wins and losses.

The Miami App was originally built for the sport facilities team. Their goal was to become paperless and it grew into a new way to make it easier for customers to participate and widen their own in-game experience. The app can buy a beer and upgrade a fan’s seat. But there is more to it than just taking orders from a season seat holder. The team is gaining more revenue opportunities because of the app. The Heat is now using it as a marketing tool and have started to bring in their corporate sponsors to use it as well.

One of the more agonizing exercises a worker does during March Madness is fill out an NCAA bracket. The bracket contains 68 U.S.-based collegiate and university basketball teams. There are four sections to the bracket and before the tournament even starts there are four play-in games to determine the final 64 teams. Add 32 First Round Games to choose followed by 16 second round games. A total of 67 games will be played in this tournament and choosing the wrong team at any time could crush some workers dreams of a perfect bracket.

Borlase told Tech In Sports that data is the future for bracketology. “For instance the data taken over the years can now be modeled. It’s similar to MoneyBall in baseball,” he said.

But don’t count out the emotional side of bracketology. Borlase added that having a personal attachment to a team, in his case the Syracuse Orangemen, is also important because of the overall experience a person gets from March Madness.

SapientRazorfish works to bring more intelligence in the stats that are being captured and it can help you choose one team over another, he said.

“The data has to be ready for the people. It should be more immersive and have many touch points.”

The Miami Heat app, for example, was built to be a fun experience for people. The concept is a simple one. If it’s fun to use more people will play with it and those that do will play with it more often.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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