Monday, 15 June 2015

Why the HD Wifi Debate is a Red Herring

Barely a day passes at the moment without a new debate about stadium High Density WiFi kicking off in one of my LinkedIn Groups. Without doubt it’s one of the hottest topics in the industry as we all try to wrestle with the eternal question of how it pays for itself. However, I would argue that there is way too much emphasis on connecting the stadium and almost no debate about why we’re actually looking to connect it in the first place.

What really excites me is the potential of the mobile platform. Yes, connecting your venue up is important and you should do it but there are many reasons why I think that there is way too much importance attached to the WiFi itself.

When we’re talking about RoI, we’re all too focussed on the matchday experience. Ninety minutes on a Saturday represents 0.89% of the week’s time, so why are we not thinking about monetising our fanbase throughout the rest of the week? Connecting the stadium helps on a matchday but it doesn’t take me to point out the shift to mobile and if you can create a platform to communicate, learn more about your customers and monetise them 24/7 through micro-transactions then that it a much more exciting proposition.

Secondly, the traditional sports model doesn’t lend itself to the digital experience we’re trying to achieve. Because there is typically nothing to do before or after most events and half time is a scrum, we’re missing out on the benefits that connectivity brings. Trying to justify a £1m spend on hardware through incremental burger sales is either going to take a number of years or leave you encouraging morbid obesity amongst your fans. Trying to shoehorn an RoI model into what we already have doesn’t do the hardware spend justice: the onus must be on venue owners to build an all-day multi-sensory physical and digital experience.

Connectivity is now no more than a utility. These days we pick our coffee shops and hotels based on the availability of (free) WiFi and whilst connecting 20,000+ people at the same time is more of a technological challenge, it’s one that should now come as standard. I’ve argued previously that we tend to ask the wrong questions as regards the HD WiFi RoI Model and there are two main stumbling blocks in my experience: firstly, a lack of over-arching marketing and customer engagement strategy and secondly a the tendency for internal business units to operate in silos. One of my clients is now able to offer the complete solution: HD Wifi, mobile platform and the consultancy expertise to make it all happen.

Cracking the HD WiFi nut needs an holistic, co-operative approach. Of course, this approach all requires a visionary rightsholder, who is prepared to commit the time, resource and investment. But then surely anything worth doing is worth doing properly?
This article first appeared on Future Sport, a new website devoted to the convergence of sport, marketing and technology.