When Super Bowl LI kicks off in Texas this Sunday, not many viewers will be pondering the evolution of business software over the last fifty-one years.
Yet, the growth of the biggest annual sporting event in the United States—with over 110 million people tuning in this year—has propelled some incredible advances in broadcasting technology, which have moved in lock-step with business tech.
In looking at these advances over the years, I've identified three major trends—and these are important for every small and medium business leader who wants their business to grow and win.
During the first match in 1967—a game not yet branded “Super Bowl”—there were only 11 television cameras supported by two production trucks. The 51st Super Bowl will use 100 cameras and 11 production support trailers.
But beyond the raw numbers, in 1967 each camera delivered a grainy image—and many folks watching at home still had black and white television sets. Today, the cameras deliver incredibly high-resolution images from many different perspectives, beamed live to big, high-def, flat screen TVs. When these 360-degree images are stitched together (using five miles of fiber optic cable) one can almost experience—in real time—a player’s field-level view as he runs for the end zone.
Across the spectrum, from fans to players, no one is clamoring for a return to the 1960s technologies used in that first game.
Consider, too, the high cost of data storage in the 1960s. The primary tapes from that first game were all erased and re-used for other sporting events. No original, full-length tape of that historic game exists today. It’s a far cry from the low-cost, terabyte disks common in today's laptops.
Business software has experienced a similar trajectory. In 1967, companies used software built with COBOL and other early (now nearly extinct) programming languages. A remote connection was a dial-up modem connected to an acoustic coupler whose speed was measured in baud rates. Business users who wanted green bar report variations, let alone a new document, endured lengthy and complicated requests to central IT staff who were continually maintaining and updating systems. Storage costs for data were carefully monitored and controlled.
Fast forward from 1967 to 2017. Small to medium businesses looking to grow are moving to modern business solutions, crafted from the ground up for the cloud, with updates rolled out by the vendor on a regular schedule.
Regardless of their release date or version, on-premises systems are hopelessly tied to the technological and architectural underpinnings developed in the last century. If you’ve used a cloud application to call up a report or dashboard on your mobile device (and most of us have), think about how easy it is compared to even 10 years ago.
For high-growth SMBs—ones that are planning ahead for their industry Super Bowls or expanding market plays—the cloud delivers vision and clarity driven by 21st century technologies and solutions. They want to watch their business through the same lenses used by this weekend’s Super Bowl, not the tools used in the first championship game in 1967—or even 2007, when the first smartphone was sold.
When Super Bowl LI camera data is stitched together for a field-level perspective, at least 1 terabyte of data will be processed for a single 15- to 30-second video clip. Considering the many plays during a 60-minute game, these individual files will probably require a petabyte of storage. And this is just data for seeing ground-level player perspectives.
This is only one example of data evolution and growth. Well beyond simple stats for individual players, each athlete will carry RFID sensors on their shoulder pads—tracking their speed, acceleration and position 25 times a second. Taking the full game into consideration, this data collection alone will generate nearly one million unique data points for each professional on the field.
Data requirements for today’s SMBs are likewise experiencing unprecedented growth rates. Even small businesses today collect far more data about their customers than anyone ever imagined 50 years ago. Add in the Internet of Things and other sensor-based technologies—which spawn endless streams of data—and the insatiable thirst for data growth becomes impossible to understate.
With the infinite scalability of cloud vendors like Oracle, businesses are always ready to collect all the data carried down their field—no matter how much they grow. Small to midsize companies working in the cloud eliminate a common and growing problem with on-premises solutions—namely, their growth is never constrained by an inability to scale.
In many ways, Super Bowls are as much about shared experiences as the match itself. Viewers want to do more than passively watch the broadcast (or, at the Houston stadium, sit in their seats). Whether joining a family-and-friends party, or partying at the 72,000-person stadium, everyone will be sharing their experiences across the globe through many different social media platforms, from every type of mobile device. Based on projections from last year’s Super Bowl in California, there will be over 100,000 active mobile devices in use at the stadium alone—well exceeding one per person in attendance.
Fans not only want, but expect, the big game to support their daily social interactions with smartphones, tablets and watches. This trend highlights a new paradigm: social media is everywhere, and mobile devices are ubiquitous.
Modern cloud software clearly follows this new paradigm. Your employees (especially younger new hires), suppliers, partners, contractors—and most importantly, your customers (think Millennials and Generation Z)—arrive at your physical or digital front door every day. They bring with them an expectation of ever-present and meaningful social and mobile capabilities. It’s no longer a novelty. It’s a necessity, in the same way a company website or employee email address evolved from a curiosity to a requirement at the end of the last century.
While on-premises systems might offer limited capabilities, it is cloud applications that have embedded social and mobile into their infrastructure as a core component—at a price that even SMBs can afford.
Despite changing technology trends, there is one goal that hasn’t changed in 50 years: winning the game. Being declared “World Champions” while holding up the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy is the dream of every football player.
It’s the same with any business—you want to get on top of the game and win. Cloud solutions improve any company’s competitive position and deliver robust advantages that propel SMBs forward. They can embrace their future growth at lower costs—with more modern capabilities compared to last century’s on-premises approach.
If you have a minute between touchdowns, half-time shows and clever commercials, give it some thought.
Editor’s note: Rudy is not favoring or predicting any winner since his local Denver Broncos team (and Super Bowl 50 champions) were beyond terrible this season. Instead, he’ll be skiing nearly-empty slopes in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.