The US Open is a celebration of international tennis prowess, luxury brand integrations and fan enthusiasm that seems to go off without a hitch every year. But behind the scenes, IBM has helped run the show since 1990, and the U.S. Tennis Association just signed another four-year contract with the firm.
The partnership has become a test bed of data-fueled innovation that not only reaches consumers and media covering the event, but now even uses social-media data to influence how server resources are allocated. IBM has applied the predictive-analytics-based work for other clients, too.
A command center in the depths of Arthur Ashe stadium in New York's Flushing, Queens, is a monitor-filled visual hub for the steady information stream that has turned the event into a data rally. It's officially known as the Scoring Operations Room, but the information flowing there goes beyond match scores. Handheld devices used courtside feed multiple data points such as serve speeds from each match into the system, where they hit a database that's accessible to announcers broadcasting the games, and reporters hunkered down in media lairs in the lower level of the stadium.