Derrick Buckley is Microsoft’s Media and Communications business lead for APAC. With over 20 years of working experience, Buckley collaborates with regional and global customers from media and telecommunications organizations to empower them to achieve more with solutions that deliver personalized experiences, provide agile operations, and accelerate innovation and growth. The Playknox spoke with him about Microsoft’s latest partnership with ONE Championship to further accelerate and reinvent the digital fan experience among other things. Excerpts:
Microsoft is investing more and more into sports as we have seen with its Global Innovation Centre in Madrid. Is sports tech the way forward for Microsoft?
At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every individual and every organization on the planet to achieve more. And we believe that technology brings value and helps transform every industry, including sports and the way we experience it. Especially now, when digital or hybrid experiences are more important than ever because of the restrictions in social gatherings and sports events. I personally believe there is great potential in sports and the power of technology coming together. Not only does it help sports organizations and athletes reach new heights and gain a competitive edge, it also brings fans closer to the game.
Microsoft’s cloud and AI solutions have been game-changers for many leagues and organizations in this industry. We are seeing how the transformation of business operations and development of unique digital capabilities fueled by data insights are redefining the industry. With better access to data and the ability to more easily analyze it and draw conclusions, sporting organizations can make better informed decisions, introduce new services, and offer more personalized experiences as well as build fan loyalty. They can also improve athletes’ performance and reduce the risk of injuries.
This is exactly what we are showcasing at our Global Sports Innovation Center in Madrid as part of our overall efforts to support innovation in the sports industry. We are committed to helping all customers transform and innovate, no matter which industry they represent. And we are proud to work with some of the biggest sports organizations in the world, including the NBA, South African Rugby Union, LaLiga and Hendrick Motorsports as they improve the sporting experience for both their athletes and fans.
Microsoft partnered with One Championship recently. What’s the strategy behind the partnership? Tell us about other recent partnerships/initiatives.
It is exciting to work together with ONE Championship, Asia’s largest global sports media property, to help it advance and reinvent digital fan experiences. Through our recently announced partnership, ONE will harness Microsoft cloud and data analytics to delight its fans with new digital experiences.
In the current era of remote everything and this shift in the way that we work and play, consumers are changing their habits and expectations. We have witnessed the demand for new digital experiences growing significantly during the COVID period, and with new seasons of various sports leagues kicking off in the coming months, engagement of fans and new unique experiences is top of mind for our customers. I am confident that working in partnership and leveraging the power of technology, we can help ONE achieve its transformation goals and create innovative new ways of sharing the passion of sports through digital channels.
The partnership with ONE comes on the heels of other sports partnerships, including those mentioned above as well as:
National Basketball Association (NBA): In April, Microsoft and the NBA announced a partnership to a create new, innovative direct-to-consumer platform that will use machine learning and AI to deliver next-generation, personalized game broadcasts and other content offerings to fans. And just recently, the NBA announced that it would offer a new digital fan experience for its current season powered by Microsoft Teams Together mode.
Cloud9: In June, Microsoft and Cloud9 announced a partnership to co-innovate new technologies for esports, including innovations that will enable Cloud9 players and staff to uncover game-changing insights across a variety of titles.
National Football League (NFL): In March, the NFL and Microsoft announced an expansion of their technology partnership to use Microsoft Surface devices and Microsoft Teams to empower its coaches and players to be more efficient through enhanced collaboration and communications.
Microsoft has shown keen interest in eSports, sports startup ventures, data analytics among other things. Is sports an industry where Microsoft aims to have a formidable presence?
Our primary goal is to be a partner for our customers in this and every industry we serve. As such, we are always looking for opportunities where our technological capabilities meet our customers’ needs. Specific to the sports industry, we are seeing more and more demand to harness digital technologies in light of evolving customer demands and the changing entertainment landscape. In working with our sports partners, we hope to continually enable them to add new dimensions to the sport and experience for fans through technology and innovation.