What businesses can learn from athletes

January 25, 2019

As a nation, we’re more tech-savvy than ever before. Smart watches and hoverboards, Google Glasses and cordless earphones – the average person carries a lot of tech round with them every day. Gym junkies and budding athletes are no exception: from biometric shirts to fitness trackers, tech can often be the key to unlocking higher performance levels.

But it’s not just consumers that are turning to tech to tune-up their everyday set-up. Digital transformation has been talked about for years – and it’s the challenge that every business is trying to solve and simultaneously stay ahead of. With long-established brands shutting their doors as a result of not being able to adapt to an increasingly digital society, and challenger brands popping up across every sector, digitisation is the key to keeping pace with change.

Digital is here

You can take any industry and see the influence digitalisation has had. In July, the health and social care secretary pledged almost half a billion pounds to transform technology in the NHS – to reduce staff workloads and improve patient care. This year, we’ve seen the inexorable rise of cryptocurrencies – and Blockchain has dominated the news. Virtual hearings are increasing, and the Ministry of Justice is spending tens of millions of pounds on online and digital court programmes that will save money and improve access to justice.

Like in evolution, businesses need to adapt to survive – but not every firm can afford the in-house resourcing to fulfil this need. Managed service providers can be the ideal solution for these companies, to help them navigate today’s increasingly digital corporate landscape. But this shouldn’t be regarded as a headache – more as a way to develop a competitive edge against other firms in the industry.

The link between sport and business evolution

We’ve come a long way from dusty racetracks and stopwatches. Technology has improved the accuracy, enjoyment and experiences of both athletes and spectators at sporting events.

From photo finish equipment to goal line tracking, body sensors and Hawk-Eye video review technology – the sports industry has become slick, and awash with technological innovation. And it seems that the record breakers of the future will need to take full advantage of the technology on offer to stay on top. So it is in business – digital transformation is an essential way for any (and every) company to gain and maintain a competitive edge.

From the race track to the boardroom

There are many athletic tactics that companies can adopt to become agile and stay on top of their game – working on their own or with a provider:

1. Tracking. In sport, this is the ability to record data – using either wearables or smart clothing. These are fitted with sensors that track a player’s performance metrics. Arenas, like smart courts, can also offer these data insights. Using this data can identify ‘marginal gains’ – by identifying weaknesses and areas of improvement – and help athletes improve their game.

In business, having a greater awareness of metrics and data is crucial for success. Just like in sport, data can drive performance. By investing in the right tools, companies can predict customer trends and behaviours and make calculated decisions that will boost sales opportunities and increase customer retention – thus leading to an increased revenue stream.

Data-driven insights will be able to facilitate this process, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine-learning tracking and predicting purchasing habits. This will help companies instantly identify – and better yet, anticipate – and meet consumers’ needs.

2. Recovery. In sport, Michael Phelps – one of the most decorated Olympians of all time – used a hyperbaric (altitude) chamber to increase his white blood cell count via breathing thinner air in the build-up to the Rio Olympics. This allowed him to reduce his body’s recovery time, by circulating more oxygen around whilst swimming. This also ultimately increased his performance.

In business, when mistakes happen, minimal recovery time is crucial – especially when these mistakes involve user information and digital platforms. Investing in business continuity solutions that offer backup and two-channel connections will keep your recovery time down, reduce your costs and help maintain customer trust. It’s also crucial to have a strategy in place, should downtime or disaster strike. Maintaining transparency and following a distinct, mapped-out plan of protocols, processes and strategies will minimise a business’ recovery time.

In addition, performing regular audits will help you identify issues before they strike – thus helping companies both minimise the impact of these events, and maintain brand confidence.

3. Intelligence. In sport, Tour de France cyclists train with special glasses that reveal heart rate, incline and speed. Athletes are also able to cycle and run while being in communication with their trainer via earpieces and headsets – which helps them optimise their performance.

In business, investing in voice tech can help a workplace (i.e. a factory floor) operate smoothly and coherently. By upgrading to cloud technology, businesses can benefit from hosted voice on virtual data centres (VDCs) and unified communications – which enables cross-department communication and collaboration.

Communication is one of the most important aspects of a business model. When different teams, and members within those teams, are speaking and communicating effectively, this will enhance business efficiency and productivity – and minimise mistakes and misunderstandings. In addition, effective communication will empower employees when it comes to tackling tasks autonomously. Good communication empowers a team, and benefits every business, regardless of the sector it operates in.

4. Diet. In sport, diet-specific apps make it possible to track the macros and nutritional information of everything you’re putting in your body – to ensure that you’re consuming the right amounts of fat, protein and carbohydrates to reach peak fitness performance levels.

In business, the same quality input is required; investing in the right tech set-ups and digital strategies is crucial so that you can carry out your day-to-day functions as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. An enterprise is only as good as the foundations it is built upon, so a rock-solid IT infrastructure is of crucial importance – as are robust business systems and connectivity.

Planning and forecasting is also important. As the adage goes: failure to prepare is preparing to fail. By predicting pitfalls and problems, and planning for how to protect against them, and recover in the worst-case scenario, businesses will be well-placed to operate (and recuperate) effectively. But this is only achievable if all aspects of a business are constructed, maintained and upscaled, correctly and methodically.

Technology has touched and changed every aspect of our lives – and for businesses to be able to compete in today’s increasingly saturated marketplace, the opportunities that digital transformation offer should not be overlooked. Companies without adequate resources should rely on managed service providers to help them develop innovations, and stay ahead of the game in today’s rapidly-evolving digital landscape across all sectors.

About the Author

Ben Savage is the Sales and Marketing Director for Timico.

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