Professional basketball is a business transformed by technology

Something of an extreme, but fun, example of how mobile, social media, and analytics have changed interaction and negotiations in a business can be found in this Sports Illustrated article on the National Basketball Association: How NBA All-Star Weekend lost its luster for GMs:

  • Easier means of communication via phone and text have led to far fewer face-to-face meetings than what used to occur at the All-Star game just before the league’s trade deadline, although texting is (understandably) an imperfect channel for negotiations;
  • With the widespread use of Twitter, news often gets to employees faster than management can, creating an adjustment in expectations for all parties; and,
  • With the greater use of analytics, there is less salesmanship in proposing deals, since teams have already done so much analysis on players offered for trades.

New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also spoke this week to how social media has contributed to the league’s ability to expand globally:

“I have a set of tools available to me that David couldn’t even have imagined,” Silver tells USA TODAY Sports. “The league that David Stern inherited had our Finals on tape delay, so I’m inheriting a league where games and Finals are televised in 215 countries, 50 languages. But beyond that, I’m inheriting a social media community of over a half a billion followers on a global basis. And what’s rapidly changing in the world around us right now is the explosive ramping up of cell phone usage by consumers.

“And so I guess I see someone saying, ‘Where’s the opportunity?’ But to me, the U.S. is less than 5% of the world’s population. So when I look at markets like the billion people in Africa, the over billion people that live in India, the (1.3 billion) that live in China, just those markets alone where we’re just barely scratching the surface, there is so much opportunity out there for us.”

The NBA’s 30 GMs are a small community of collaborative but competitive colleagues, and I don’t anticipate a major new trend in sales or acquisitions closed via text message. But certainly many companies across industry sectors have only begun to scratch the surface of marketing and delivery via mobile to the globe’s billions of prospective, connected customers.

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Laura Stuart

Analyst Independent Industry Research

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