How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”
CGI: Driving local solutions with global expertise
Embrace digital transformation and infuse it with a spirit of agility, is the message to the public sector from Aleta Jeffress, CGI Senior Vice President Consulting Services.
“We partner with clients to drive value and innovation,” said Jeffress who has been working with the US City of Mesa, AZ on their digital journey for their local citizens.
Founded in 1976, CGI is one of the largest IT and business consulting services firms in the world. It is insights-driven and outcomes-based to help accelerate return on investments. CGI operates across 21 industries in 400 locations and provides scalable and sustainable services that are informed globally and delivered locally.
“We have expertise in developing and executing strategies to help companies transform their IT to align with the business through cloud strategies, application rationalization, modernization and outsourcing,” said Jeffress speaking from the Denver CGI offices.
“Digital change can be exhausting, but take the opportunity to embrace it and look for new opportunities,” said Jeffress who pointed out projects should have a sense of agility and specific focus on the end-user.
“This can be a big culture change for some clients but by making sure your implementations are not a big bang theory but you can take smaller chunks which you’re able to do over and over again as it's just going to continue to evolve,” she said.
Informed globally and delivered locally
Commenting on CGI’s partnership with the City of Mesa, Jeffress said: “We are providing a solution that has a lower cost of ownership and helps them streamline business processes and helps increase efficiency.
“The City sought a single source of truth for their ERP business processes. With CGI Advantage, they found a partner in their digital transformation journey with a configurable, unified solution that supports their HR, financial management, and performance budgeting business processes.
“With CGI Advantage, the City is working with a single source of truth that lowers total cost of ownership, streamlines business processes, and increases efficiency - additional benefits include:
• A decrease in customizations and staffing requirements resulting in faster upgrade cycles.
• Empowering HR resources to focus on strategic efforts by removing the need for manual and duplicate data entry.
• Increased accuracy with reporting.
• Process improvements shifting from customized or paper-based processes to automated processes.
• Increased pay transparency and accuracy by leveraging process improvements and configurable support
A trusted partner
“CGI is a company that focuses very intently and very intentionally on delivery - that is something that really sets us apart,” said Jeffress.
“We have an internal process where we meet with clients twice a year to ask a specific set of questions. How our clients answer those questions allows us to be sure we are aligned and can be a trusted partner with all of our clients.”
“As an international company, we can provide key resources when our clients need it in a very timely manner,” she said.
Reflecting on the challenges posed by COVID-19 Jeffress said there had been a true evolution in technology services.