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Published 7 months ago

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Feature Story: In the Era of Empty US Open Seats, IBM and AI Can Help Fans Stay Engaged

By Trish Hall

As the US Open gets underway in New York this week, the world’s top tennis players are performing in front of empty seats—not the 800,000 or so fans who would normally fill the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the two-week tournament.

With spectator sports being played with no fans present, and no clear indication of when crowds can return to stadiums and arenas, IBM Services’ business design arm— IBM iX—and USTA sense that the fan experience may never again be quite the same. Based on their years of working together, and IBM’s experience with many other sports and sporting events, they know that digital technology can have a central role to play in keeping fans involved, even once the grandstands start filling back up again.

A Fast Virtual Pivot

In a typical year, the USTA digital team and the IBM iX team work together remotely, building the platforms and new user experiences until August, when they would all meet in a war room at the stadium. And only then did the USTA-IBM team know that tech creation would need to focus on a virtual fan experience.

The team took what they already knew about delivering next-generation digital experiences to focus on what was essential this time: engaging fans at home.

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Sep 10, 2020 at 01:56

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