Wimbledon: Big Data at the world-famous tennis tournament

Wimbledon: Big Data at the world-famous tennis tournament

How Wimbledon uses Big Data in practice

Crucially, Watson gives organisers the ability to predict the sort of content fans want, rather than simply piggyback trends once they occur. Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content and digital at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which hosts the yearly grand slam, told me, “This allows us to not just look at and respond to trends, but to actually pre-empt them. We’re hoping this will help in our quest, not necessarily to always be first but certainly to be early into the conversation when critical things are happening.”

As an example of what Watson can do, Willis recalls 2014 when three Canadian players all reached the semi-finals of major tournaments. This generated, unexpectedly, a lot of conversation about Canadian tennis, which broadcasters and media were forced to engage with reactively. “A lot of people were asking ‘where has this come from?’ ‘Is it due to something specific?’, so we were able to adapt our content to make sure we were answering these questions,” Willis says.

Working predictively, Watson is able to spot emerging trends like this before they start to trend on Twitter, allowing organisers to prepare appropriate content that drives interest. As Willis puts it, “We will hopefully be able to monitor the particular interest in a particular court, or if there is one player garnering particular interest we will be able to hop on and pre-empt that trend.”


The technical details

Watson is IBM’s flagship AI-driven analytics platform. Its predictive analytics function is powered by machine learning capabilities.


Ideas and insights you can steal

Watson helps Wimbledon organisers provide a slicker service to fans who engage with the tournament through digital channels.“There is a very important audience who like to sit and watch tennis on TV for hours on end, but there’s also an audience who like to receive personalised alerts during a match, or while they are at work, and an audience that likes to sit on their Facebook page and watch content as it is served to them,” Willis says. “Our challenge is making sure that we are servicing each of those audiences on all of those platforms in the best way we can.”

You can read more about how organisations are using Big Data to drive success in Big Data in Practice: How 45 Successful Companies Used Big Data Analytics to Deliver Extraordinary Results.



Written by

Bernard Marr

Bernard Marr is a world-renowned futurist, influencer and thought leader in the field of business and technology. He is the author of 18 best-selling books, writes a regular column for Forbes and advises and coaches many of the world’s best-known organisations. He has 2 million social media followers and was ranked by LinkedIn as one of the top 5 business influencers in the world and the No 1 influencer in the UK.

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