There’s technology on the pitch, but why not in the manager’s office?

Technology is firmly embedded in every industry, and the world of sport is no different - at least, it appears to be…

Professional sportsmen and women face increasing competition in their domain. World champions can be made or broken thanks to a single point, run, goal or split-second’s lead. Competitiveness is also becoming more ferocious, emotions run high and a ‘bad call’ by a referee or umpire can cause uproar.

To help keep a level playing field, many sports are adopting the latest technology in two areas:

  • In the development and training of athletes - ‘Sports science’ has become a buzz-phrase, strength and conditioning equipment is state-of-the-art and training facilities look like something out of Back to the Future. One example is GPS being used to track players during football training sessions; heart rate, skin temperature and g-force readings are recorded from ‘smart shirts’ and beamed in real-time back to a coach holding an iPad.
  • In the monitoring and analysis of games / matches - Then there are the more instrumental technologies that affect the way sport is now played: goal line technology, video referrals, Hawkeye camera tech in cricket and tennis, the list goes on. As mentioned previously, officials need the capability to make the right decisions, humans are not perfect and mistakes are simply part of our biology. Don’t get me wrong, the spontaneity of sport is fantastic, but when reputations, big money and people’s livelihoods are on the line you need to be able to analyse the game accurately.

There’s a lot of paper back here

Conversely to all the technology that’s being used in the public eye and in training sessions - the manager’s office and indeed, most back offices of large football / rugby / cricket / tennis clubs seem to be stuck in the 20th century.

Paper processes are rife; you only need to look at the football transfer window with paper flying back and forth through fax machines to see it’s still relied on heavily. When you do move into 0’s and 1’s; admin, finance, planning, lineups, kit lists, etc. seem to take the form of an Excel spreadsheet and then back to paper via a huge printer in the corner of a room. It seems bizarre that the technology contrast is so stark on the pitch and off it.

But I guess in that respect, it’s not too different from any other organisation that has been traditionally quite resistant to change. Let’s not forget how long it’s taken to get some of these revolutionary technologies pitch-side, in some sports at least!

The software developer’s debut

Cue the humble software developer, where do we come into this?

Our industry, and the software we create has a real opportunity to make a huge change to many different vertical markets, and the sporting domain is no different. Imagine how much time and effort a club secretary, manager or coach could save by combining all the administrative work and planning they do day-in-day-out, into a custom software-based business tool which spans across an entire sports club.

Player health status, financial specifics and contractual information, kit ordering, overheads tracking, logistical information… just a few examples of what could be automated and streamlined

What’s more, people would no longer be confined to the office. The BYOD phenomenon has meant people always have a phone or tablet to hand, meaning with the right cross-platform software - data, updates and information can flow freely between the training facility and five miles down the road at the club, or even the other side of the world at an away game.

Pundits, players and fans alike have praised technological innovation on the pitch, so imagine how much time could be saved, and more to the point how much more could be accomplished when it’s off the pitch too.

Paper is definitely one player that shouldn’t be getting it’s contract renewed this year!

Jordan Watson, FileMaker Developer at We Know Data and ex-professional footballer for Preston North End.