iPad Deployments in the NFL: A Winning Strategy
This year, the Cincinnati Bengals will join a fast-growing list of NFL teams making mobile technology a central element of daily operations. More franchises are ditching dead-tree playbooks in favor of custom apps they can call up on an iPad. Instead of pages of pre-snap formations and zone-blocking schemes, they now have interactive, swipe- and search-able, video-embedded and annotated digital plays.
“It’s pretty exciting,” says Geoff Smith, a technology consultant who spent 25 years at Procter and Gamble before working for the Bengals, and who led the team’s iPad rollout. “It certainly helps us save time and leads to greater efficiency.”
Image via Shutterstock
Time Saver for Managers
Following the lead of some other early adopters (such as Denver Broncos, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers), the Bengals are providing players and coaches with 120 team-bought iPads, which have access to a digital, searchable, and remotely update-able playbook run by an app from PlayerLync, a Colorado-based provider of technology tools for sports teams.
“Our coaches are here until 10 p.m. or midnight every night working on plays,” says Michael Kayes, the team’s director of technology. “Now, they can push [new plays] out to the players’ iPad. The days of drawing up and handing out huge 1000 page binders to our players are coming to an end.”
Custom Content Distribution
The ease of sending plays out is great, but digital playbooks offer an even more important benefit: the ability to embed video cut-ups from prior games or practices right into the play designs. Smith, who has served as a technology consultant for the team for several years, says that giving players remote, anytime access to digital video mash-ups of an upcoming opponent or of their own plays is the most exciting part of the move.
In the past, video cut-ups were burned onto DVDs and handed out – a time-consuming, expensive ritual. “The prevailing protocol was that virtually no team would release videos of its own practices, not even to their own players. But now since we have this tight security, we plan to make today’s practice available [to players] by the end of the day — that’s something to study that players never had before,” states Smith.Smart, Fast Set-Up
Kayes says that while the team is ecstatic about the digital playbook’s potential, it hasn’t necessarily been an easy switch. Necessary components for the iPad program were implemented in a few months; the biggest challenge according to Kayes was beefing up the stadium’s Wi-Fi network to handle 100 iPads simultaneously downloading five or six gigabytes of video daily. The team also set up 96 mobile charging stations around the office and got extension cords for every meeting- and classroom after hearing reports about Tampa Bay players forgetting to charge their iPads. Due to time constraints, the team opted to choose an existing app to handle the playbook program rather than build one in-house.
Bottom line: In any business, profits make up the bottom line; in the NFL, that derives pretty directly from wins and losses. Smith says that an IT project like this has been exciting because it’s affecting something that’s at the absolute core of a football team: the plays it runs. ”A year from now, there’ll only be a few teams that aren’t doing this. And for the 2012 season, I believe this’ll make a huge change in how well-prepared our players are going to be on Sundays. And really, we’re just getting started.”
Interested in hearing more about the security aspects of the NFL’s iPad deployments? Read the full post from Bzur on his Chief Mobility Officer blog.
As president and CEO of Visage, Bzur Haun leads all facets of the business, including strategy and operations. Read more about the latest in mobility intelligence on Chief Mobility Officer: http://visagemobile.com/mobilityblog/author/bzur/
Edited by Brooke Neuman