|By Dana Gardner||
|March 29, 2014 02:00 PM EDT||
Auto racing powerhouse NASCAR has engineered a way to learn more about its many fans -- and their likes and dislikes -- using big-data analysis. The result is they can rapidly adjust services and responses to keep connected best to those fans across all media and social networks.
It's a story of getting at all the information and data that's generated constantly from social media, news media, broadcast media -- and then making the analysis instantly available as easy-to consume and relate visualizations.
BriefingsDirect had an opportunity to learn first-hand how NASCAR newly engages with its audiences using big data and the latest analysis platforms when we interviewed Steve Worling, Senior Director of IT at NASCAR, based in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the recent HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Tell us about the context of what you're trying to do with your fan base, and then how technology comes to bear on that.
Worling: NASCAR has been around for 65 years, and we have probably one of the most loyal fan bases out there. NASCAR really wants to understand what our fan base is saying about our sport. How do we engage with them, how are we really bringing our sport to their entertainment, and what's the value of that?
So NASCAR partnered with HP to build a first-of-its kind of Fan and Media Engagement Center. That’s a new platform for us that allow us to listen to the social media outlets -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all of those social media outlets -- to understand what the fans are talking about.
Something unique about this platform is that it also allows us to bring in the traditional media news sites. What is the media saying about our sport, and then how do you tie those conversations together to get a really nice single pane of glass on the overall conversation? What are our fans are saying, what are the news media saying, and how does that help and benefit our industry as a whole?
Gardner: It sounds like you don’t want get some of the data -- but all of the data.
Want to know everything
Worling: We absolutely want to know everything that’s being said across all of those platforms. We saw about 18 million impressions in our first year of the platform. That’s impressions across the social side and the news-media side. It was big, and this was our first year at it.
On the news media side, we're only collecting from a small sample right now. Next year, we're going to really enhance that and grow that from a few different news sites to hundreds of sites, as well as start to bring a more of awareness to our fans around social interaction.
So we're expecting to see that number grow significantly. This year, as I said, a solid 18 million tweets overall translates to about 110,000 tweets during a race day, even up to about 15,000 tweets per minute.
NASCAR is a predominantly US-based sport, but we are growing internationally. Today, we have a series in Mexico. We have a series in Canada as well, and we just expanded into Europe with our Whelen Euro Series.
This platform will also help us engage and understand how the sport is performing in those markets. What's the sentiment of the fans? It's really a great platform to allow us to right anything that we might be doing wrong. So if we need to enhance the marketing or enhance the engagement of those tracks, we're able to do that through this platform.
Our sport is unique, because there is a vast community that makes up our sport. You have a NASCAR governing body and that's what I represent. Then, there is a large race track ownership. We call those promoters, and those are the folks who are selling tickets and getting you out to the race track.
Then, we have our teams and our drivers, and those are independent contractors. So you have those that are involved in the sport, and then our sponsors and our partners that help bring all of that together and make this ecosystem. That is NASCAR.
We're able to collect data on all of those different constituents, and then share that value. I’ll give you a great example. This year, HP became a great partner with us around our Fan and Media Engagement Center.
Share the value
Our goal over the next couple years, as we work with HP, is to be able to sit down with them and share the value and what their sponsorship and their partnership brings to NASCAR. We want to develop and grow the relationship for a longer period of term. We give them real data on their activation and involvement in the NASCAR industry.
Gardner: We now know that customer information is being shared in whole new ways. How do you then take the technology and get a handle on it so that you can perform what you want?
Worling: We partner with HP, as I said, to build this platform. We’re leveraging products like their IDOL engine. The Explore capability from their Autonomy platform allows us to ingest all of this different data, put it together, and then really start building that single pane of glass to understand what these conversations are -- whether there is a breaking story around activation within our sport, or something else.
As it's collecting this data, the platform starts to stitch it together so that we can understand what the conversation is. So it’s taking that news outlet information, taking the social sentiment, and putting it together to make sense of it. It’s taking all of that unstructured data, structuring it, and then giving us the analytics that allow us to understand the conversation -- and react appropriately.
It could be a story that makes sense and is telling the right story, or it could be a story that needs a little bit of direction from NASCAR to make sure that we're getting the right story out there.
So HP building that with Autonomy has been very valuable. We're getting ready to deploy HP Vertica on top of that now to allow us to take this large amount of data we’re getting and putting it into the Vertica data infrastructure. Then we can start making even more connection points and more rationalization, and then being able to layer other tools on top of it -- things like Tableau Software -- to help us with visualization.
One of the new things that I'm excited about is in telling our story about our great command center. It’s a showcase piece that you can come and see what we’re actually reporting on the analytics. We’re going to build a map of the U.S. that allows us to give us the hotspots of information.
So as people are tweeting, maybe good or bad, in California, you might get a big red spot. We can drive down into that, understand what that data is, and then engage through our dot-com platforms and other media outlets to make sure that we're saying the right story or addressing the concerns that are out there.
Gardner: I saw on the stage at HP Discover in Barcelona that Facebook put up a very impressive map that was built using Vertica. It shows their actual installed base and the connections between them. Of course, it looks very much like a map of the world, but it's a map of Facebook.
Worling: That was an amazing visualization, and I can't wait to be able to do the same thing. I thought that was a really neat and I’d love to be able to get the resolution of the world like they have, but I will be happy to get a great, rich US look. That was totally a cool thing, and I hope that we can do the same thing as well.
Gardner: So one of the great things about what you have been doing is getting all the data. One of the bad things you've been doing is getting all the data. How do you move beyond this being a fire hose and make it actionable?
Worling: As I mentioned, we’re storing everything in IDOL today. We'll be migrating to Vertica shortly to help us with the consumption. For us, this year, it's been a little bit of we just didn’t know what we didn’t know. We weren't really sure what kind of data we were going to see and how we were going to react to it. Our sport is a great sport, but like any sport or any business, there's always a little controversy with it, and we experienced some of that this year. So it was more of a great platform to help us do crisis management.
As we dealt with the situations that came up, we were able to get data from this and react to it appropriately. But we've also started to learn some proactive things to think about.
As we launch a new car this year, our Gen-6 Car, what is the engagement or sentiment from our fans? We’ve been able to do some deep analytic research on what that is and get valuable information to be able to hand GM, who launched this car with us this year and say, “This is the results of the news" instantly -- a lot of big data.
As I said, we have 18 million impressions this year, which was phenomenal, and I don’t think we had a bar to set. Now, we’ve have set the bar for next year and I think with Vertica and IDOL [part of HP HAVEn], we’re positioning ourselves or have the right platform that allow us to grow extensively as we look to the future.
Gardner: Once you start getting big-data capabilities and driving more data into it, you get hungry for more data. You’ll start thinking about places to acquire it, doing joins, and then finding even better analysis. Any thoughts as to where you might go next, now that you’ve tapped the social-media environment?
Worling: There are two ways to answer that. One, we’re going to continue to grow the social media side. I mentioned the things that we’re doing today with Facebook and Twitter. Instagram really is the next big piece of integration for us.
For NASCAR, it’s important for us to engage younger people in that Gen Y, Millennial Generations. Instagram is a key component to do that. So that’s going to be a big focus for us in getting that integrated and then just keeping an eye out for the new social solutions or offerings that are coming out and how we keep them integrated.
Then, we’re going to start working on the traditional news media as well. As I mentioned, it’s going to be key for us to understand the press impacts. That’s very relevant for our CEO and Chairman. I didn’t mention, but we’ll also be bringing in video from our broadcast partners. We broadcast nationally in the US, as well as in 198 countries worldwide. That story is very important to us.
We’ll be growing a lot of that next year. The second side of that is our business becomes more aware of this tool. We’ve been getting just inundated with requests, some from the sales guys, as they’re trying to develop new sales, how we should value what it means to be part of our sport. There are renewals in the sales process as well, the value of the partners that are already existing and then taking it to our drivers.
A great story I love to tell is about a young and upcoming driver that started in our Camping World Truck Series. This year has to build his brand. He has a brand that he needs to develop and get out there.
We brought him into the Fan and Engagement Center and spent about three or four hours taking him through different analytics, different use cases of information around his brand, and helped him understand what it meant to be good. We showed him the things he needs to develop, and the things that he wasn’t so good at, so he could take that away and work better on those. We’re definitely seeing a lot of requests from the industry: How does this platform benefit them and how do they get rich data out of it?
You may also be interested in:
- HP HAVEn CTO Mundada on new ways for businesses to gain transformation from big data
- HP's Project HAVEn rationalizes HP's portfolio while giving businesses a path to total data analysis
- Fast-changing demands on data centers drive need for uber data center infrastructure management
- HP delivers the IT means for struggling enterprises to remake themselves
- Istanbul-based Finansbank Manages Risk and Security Using HP ArcSight, Server Automation
- HP Access Catalog smooths the way for streamlined deployment of mobile apps
- HP adds new value to Vertica data analytics platform with community marketplace
- HP Vertica General Manager Colin Mahony on the next generation of analytics platforms
- HP Vertica architecture gives massive performance boost to toughest BI queries for Infinity Insurance
- HP Experts analyze and explain the HAVEn big data news from HP Discover
- Network virtualization eases developer and operations snafus in the mobile and cloud era
- Service virtualization solves bottlenecks amid complex billing process for German telco
- Nimble Storage Leverages Big Data and Cloud to Produce Data Performance Optimization on the Fly
With SaaS use rampant across organizations, how can IT departments track company data and maintain security? More and more departments are commissioning their own solutions and bypassing IT. A cloud environment is amorphous and powerful, allowing you to set up solutions for all of your user needs: document sharing and collaboration, mobile access, e-mail, even industry-specific applications. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Shawn Mills, President and a founder of Green House Data, discussed h...
Jul. 30, 2015 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 330
One of the hottest areas in cloud right now is DRaaS and related offerings. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Dale Levesque, Disaster Recovery Product Manager with Windstream's Cloud and Data Center Marketing team, will discuss the benefits of the cloud model, which far outweigh the traditional approach, and how enterprises need to ensure that their needs are properly being met.
Jul. 30, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,671
The speed of software changes in growing and large scale rapid-paced DevOps environments presents a challenge for continuous testing. Many organizations struggle to get this right. Practices that work for small scale continuous testing may not be sufficient as the requirements grow. In his session at DevOps Summit, Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect of DevOps continuous test solutions at Spirent Communications, explained the best practices of continuous testing at high scale, which is rele...
Jul. 29, 2015 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,367
"We got started as search consultants. On the services side of the business we have help organizations save time and save money when they hit issues that everyone more or less hits when their data grows," noted Otis Gospodnetić, Founder of Sematext, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 29, 2015 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,022
"We have been in business for 21 years and have been building many enterprise solutions, all IT plumbing - server, storage, interconnects," stated Alex Gorbachev, President of Intelligent Systems Services, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 29, 2015 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,027
In a recent research, analyst firm IDC found that the average cost of a critical application failure is $500,000 to $1 million per hour and the average total cost of unplanned application downtime is $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion per year for Fortune 1000 companies. In addition to the findings on the cost of the downtime, the research also highlighted best practices for development, testing, application support, infrastructure, and operations teams.
Jul. 29, 2015 05:30 PM EDT
"We specialize in testing. DevOps is all about continuous delivery and accelerating the delivery pipeline and there is no continuous delivery without testing," noted Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect at Spirent Communications, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 29, 2015 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 363
How do you securely enable access to your applications in AWS without exposing any attack surfaces? The answer is usually very complicated because application environments morph over time in response to growing requirements from your employee base, your partners and your customers. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, Haseeb Budhani, CEO and Co-founder of Soha, shared five common approaches that DevOps teams follow to secure access to applications deployed in AWS, Azure, etc., and the friction an...
Jul. 29, 2015 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 501
"Alert Logic is a managed security service provider that basically deploys technologies, but we support those technologies with the people and process behind it," stated Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 29, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 328
Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology. Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve. Digital Transformation means: handling all the data types being found and created in the organizat...
Jul. 29, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,070
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Jul. 29, 2015 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 242
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to tran...
Jul. 29, 2015 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 396
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...
Jul. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 468
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of pro...
Jul. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,258
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
Jul. 29, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 112