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Could chatbots become a fan favorite?

Sport and technology have a long history, but 2018 marked a significant milestone: Video Assistant Referee tech finally made its World Cup debut. Tennis embraced Hawk-Eye years ago, but football was much slower to adopt this kind of technology to help athletes and officials.

But it isn’t just those on the pitch, or court, who are seeing the impact of technological change. Mobile apps can improve the fan experience, whether you’re at home or in the stands, by sharing match info and stats. And for those lucky enough to be attending matches in person, chatbots have now entered the scene.

Welcome, chatbots

While we soak up the atmosphere, match organizers are starting to use chatbots to make our experiences more enjoyable, more personal, and less stressful – all through the device we each have in our pockets.

The word ‘bot’ may conjure images of impersonal machines, but with the right data and learning capabilities, bots can deliver highly personalized fan experiences. They’re can be ‘digital assistant’, responding quickly and accurately to questions, so fans can focus on the action. And they’re already out there:

  • At the latest Mutua Madrid Open, a chatbot, fueled by artificial intelligence (AI), made communication with tennis fans faster and easier. Part of the Open’s strategy to engage younger fans and be more innovative, the ‘Matchbot’ gave attendees information on players, schedules, and results via their mobiles. But it also provided details on guest services, event access and parking. Plus, with its machine learning capabilities, every interaction made the bot a little better, helping to improve answers.
  • Heineken Urban Polo did something similar. An AI-based ‘digital assistant’ was available through Facebook Messenger, responding to questions about the match or the range of hospitality events taking place – whether that meant the bar and DJ locations, sharing timings, or providing details on players.

Always learning

These chatbots are fueled by data. Oracle’s Intelligent Bots software gathers information based on previous interactions with customers services, across various touchpoints, and combines this with event data on a centralized platform. The bot can then create a range of answers to questions, while its machine learning capabilities mean it will improve its responses over time. And as chatbots become more intelligent, and manage more complex requests, spectators will enjoy an even better sports experience – certainly one that justifies the price of admission.

To find out all digital Innovation is delivering on its promises, read our report.

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