The Wimbledon tennis tournament has started using its new Wimbledon Social Command Centre tool hosted on IBM's SoftLayer platform, as it looks to track and engage with social media users discussing the tournment.
The tool allows Wimbledon – or the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) to give it its full name – to monitor social coverage on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+, so it is aware of the exact topics generating debate.
When defending champion Andy Murray begins his defence at 1pm on the opening Monday, there will no doubt be plenty of chat on Twitter to give Wimbledon a chance to see how the tool works during a period of strong interest.
Using IBM's SoftLayer cloud service will mean that service availability can match demand as it rises and falls during certain matches and times of the tournament.
Using the tool to monitor social information is designed to ensure the Wimbledon.com website presents the most relevant information, as content and communications manager at AELTC Alex Willis explained.
“The Wimbledon Social Command Centre will help us follow the evolving topics on sites like Twitter to see what is being discussed, how the volume is changing, and we can tune and tailor that to the Wimbledon.com website,” she said.
“So if the social media coverage is actually talking about a match on court 12, rather than centre court, it means we can understand that and give people the content they want.”
Last year the website received 19.7 million unique visitors and 433 million page views, so ensuring the right content is displayed at the right time is vital to meet the needs of tennis fans worldwide.
IBM will host the Wimbledon Social Command Centre on its SoftLayer cloud platform, which Big Blue is pushing as its key technology to meet cloud demands.
Sam Seddon, Wimbledon client and programme executive at IBM, cited the huge difference in demands on the Wimbledon.com website as a good example of the benefits of the cloud, given the rapid change in demand the tournament generates.
“The ability to ramp up from small levels of traffic to astronomical levels is done in the cloud. Our cloud sits across three data centres in North America and we use multiple data sources to provide the right level of service,” he said.
This includes using the IBM Watson big data and analytics platform to bring in key data points, including order of play and social media information, to understand how and when demand for the website will fluctuate each day (pictured below).
The service runs its algorithm every 90 minutes so that it can respond to any changes that may have occurred, such as a shock defeat, and recognise that demand may be about to rise unexpectedly.
The new social tool comes as IBM and Wimbledon celebrate 25 years of partnering for the world’s biggest tennis tournament. As well as the new social service, Wimbledon is also updating its existing digital offerings.
This includes overhauling its Android, iPad and iPhone apps with a new interface design (pictured left), as well as the ability for users to tailor the information displayed to their interests.
The SlamTracker stats service, hosted on the Wimbledon.com website, has also been updated with new information, such as distances being run by the players and how many points each player has won.
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