While Dublin’s Silicon Docks are often hyped as creating an almost animal magnetism for tech companies locating to Ireland, corporate behemoths (your Googles, Facebooks etc) aside, the rate of  technology advancement within alternative industry sectors has often been archaic.

For example, despite, as a nation, having an obsessive love of a variety of sports, there has been a very traditional mind-set around incorporating technology into the arenas of competition that capture the nations collective attention.

A willingness to be led, by bigger budgets and grander aims over in the UK, appeared to hamper the degree of innovation on the part of domestic associations to adopt game-changing technology. Often, if it wasn’t being done in the UK, it seemed it was just too risky to try out!

Thankfully, there appears to have been a significant shift – Irish thought leaders are focused on utilising our sports obsession and aligning it more closely and effectively with our “favourable tax-rate enabled” technological prowess. With Enterprise Ireland driving efforts forward as the largest European VC (incredible!), a stalwart of Irish start-ups are creating noise and being heard – though often skipping the Irish market and heading straight for the hallowed grounds of the US sporting arenas.

Highlighting this shift and catering to the specific niche of athlete management, are two Irish start-ups, who are leading the market implementing tracking and monitoring systems to yield better understanding of body fatigue – and drive a reduction in levels of athlete injuries. Statsport and Kitman Labs respectively, can currently count teams from the NBA to Premier League as clients, an undeniable indicator of the quality of their respective products and research.

As the appetite for technology solutions to protect athletes is being implemented globally, similar, if not greater, opportunities exist for teams willing to embrace technology to drive fan engagement. While there is a huge availability of digital sponsorship solutions that focus on engagement before and after an event, the opportunity to enhance the fan experience while they are attending an event – therefore truly aligning a brand with an event – has remained relatively untouched.

Connectivity issues are often quoted as a deciding factor, yet, looking towards the US and Superbowl 2015, with over 6TB of data created and shared by fans in just one game (!) – its pretty clear that we’re selling ourselves short if we accept that excuse. The reality is that Ireland too – with a mix of both WiFi, Beacon and DAS solutions, can and should enable fans to enjoy and share their experience across mobile channels.

Recently, there have been some market leading developments highlighting how certain innovative Irish rights holders are recognising and listening to the needs of their fans in this regard. While there are multiple official team apps for Irish teams/associations, it’s only the most innovative that are really looking to integrate components that enhance the live fan experience (beyond providing live scores!).

Leinster Rugby have pulled out all the stops to create an innovative app that enhances the fan experience! Their introduction of the seat upgrade technology in the official Leinster Rugby app, which has been incorporated into the app menu directly, is a fantastic example of what can be done.

Not only has this transformed the app from primarily informational in nature, additionally driving fan downloads of the app, it has really developed the Leinster Rugby teams ability to enhance their fans experience. Experience is also the name of the Atlanta-based company behind the upgrade technology – who suggest that this is the first European wide integration of seat upgrade technology. Its’ important to note that this type of app usage is made possible in large parts by Irish Beacon connectivity specialists Xtremepush, however, the existence of substantial and high calibre competitors in the upgrade space – Pogoseat, for example, indicates the market potential.

Other pioneering approaches to Stadium App technologies includes a recent addition at Aviva Stadium, where, following trials in 2014, a food and beverage purchasing app has been introduced. Rapid Q by Preoday will be at all future events, according to venue sources. This indicates a solid belief in the future of this technology and its potential to transform the fan experience, with ordering from your seat allowing greater levels of comfort, less queueing and greater revenue opportunities for the venue. While Rapid Q operates as a stand-alone app, it will be interesting to see how long it takes before a dedicated Aviva venue app is in the works – integrating components such as Rapid Q, Expapp/Pogoseat and our very own Crowdsight Rewards platform!

The ongoing battle between fans supporting their team “In the Arena” vs “On the Couch” will continue to wage even with these app solutions and enhancements, however, the ultimate goal here is to improve the fan experience and in a climate of rising ticket prices, look to give ever greater value for money. We’ve written previously on the top 6 stadium technologies on the market, and its fantastic to see Irish rights holders taking note and specifically, Leinster Rugby and Aviva Stadium taking the lead and supporting continued innovation in this space.

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Here at Crowdsight, our emphasis is on rewarding fans directly for sharing their fan experience – capturing the content that resonates with other fans and making social media work more effectively for Sponsors. We operate both in stand-alone format or integrate into existing venue/event apps to ensure flexible integration for our clients. Keep in touch for the latest developments (some big news to be released soon) or drop us an email: info@crowdsight.co, to find out how we can integrate and drive value in more detail.