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SAP serves up real-time view of Dubai tennis event

Visualisation tool allows drilldown of court action as it happens

SAP serves up real-time view of Dubai tennis event
SAP's Lumira allows real-time dissemination of data.

This week the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship gets underway in Garhoud and SAP is in attendance, but not just to watch the action. The German enterprise software vendor is keen to raise awareness of the use of its core technologies in analysing player performance across a number of sports, including tennis.

"SAP has gone through a dramatic change in the past three to five years," Jenni Lewis, solutions architect, Sponsorship Technology, SAP Global Marketing, told ITP.net. "We are a 40-year-old company and we are known traditionally as an ERP company. We're changing that. We can't survive in a world that's constantly changing unless we bring out an innovation suite. So we are now so much more than just an ERP company."

SAP now thinks of itself as a database vendor, cloud provider, analytics provider (after its acquisition of Business Objects in 2009) and a mobile platform provider. While the core business software remains a key product, the company's "innovation suite" is based around its in-memory database Hana, which allows hot processing in real time of large amounts of data. Along with Hana, SAP provides a host of add-on technologies. Analytics is one, mobile is another. But it is Lamira, the company's visualisation module, that is of interest to the Women's Tennis Association, leading the body to sign a partnership agreement with SAP in August 2013.

For a sport like tennis, data is collected from a number of sources, including Veris Industries' Hawkeye sensors and manual input from umpires. The data is fed to a central repository where it is picked up automatically and fed into Hana databases. Lamira can then set to work feeding that data in visual form to fans, media, commentators and match officials. Because of the rules of the sport, the data cannot yet be shared in real-time with players or their coaches, but can be shared after a match.

But Lamira delivers more than just data visualisation. Under the surface the product is also capable of cleansing data and sifting out actionable nuggets of information that are not necessarily explicitly stored, as in the classic data-mining models of the late Nineties.

"Lamira allows businesses to consume their own information and understand that information," said Lewis. "We have added a new feature, ‘Did You Know?' that looks at the information, interprets it and feeds back facts."

Lewis explained that the actionable nature of such features for an organisation such as the WTA is in allowing the discovery of newsworthy information automatically, rather than enduring laborious manual inspection. The nugget can then be tweeted or published in any number of formats in real time.

Lewis said that the top 10 ranked players in the world currently use information from Lamira, including Serena Williams and her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, who Lewis describes as "one of our biggest advocates". But Lewis hopes for wider adoption.

"This year I want to make sure we are also supporting the players ranked 50 to 100," she said. These players may not be able to afford to have their coach travel to tournaments with them, she explained. SAP is working to provide such coaches with summary data reports from each match.

Some reports show colour-coded representations of each point won and which player served. Displays such as this can actually show patterns of behaviour that reveal psychological barriers within players and even their level of fitness.

As Lewis puts it: "Information by itself is noise; information with insight tells a story."

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