Wednesday 4, May 2016

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Three leading companies in the sectors of sport, aviation and technology discussed their knowledge-sharing partnership that has spurred business innovation and given them a competitive edge.

City Football Group, the company that operates football clubs including Manchester City FC, has partnered with the Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways, and the German software and technology giant SAP to share their latest breakthroughs on everything from technology and R&D to business best practices and customer experiences.

At a conference held in the capital, delegates were given an exclusive insight into the benefits of what at first seems an unlikely marriage of companies across diverse sectors. The event, entitled “An Evening of Innovation,” was hosted by CNN anchor John Defterios and held in the Etihad Innovation Centre.

Top executives from City Football Group (CFG) revealed that their partnership with SAP could help to bolster cutting edge technological methods of scouting players, developing tactics and analysing player performance – even preventing injuries. CFG’s alliance with Etihad, meanwhile, has driven innovation in areas including fan relations and loyalty schemes.

Representatives from SAP and Etihad Airways disclosed how they have benefitted from the partnership, especially to strengthen their position in new markets such as China.

“If you’re not innovative and don’t have the right partners, you’ll get swamped in this business,” said City Football Group’s Tom Glick. “If you just try to do things the same way as your competitors, you are playing catch up. We have to do something original in terms of recruiting players, appealing to fans, and driving revenue, enabling us to win trophies. Our partnership with SAP and Etihad Airways is a crucial part of taking an innovation-based approach to achieving our objectives.”

The event featured an impressive line-up of speakers who flew in from around the world to share insights into how the partnership facilitates innovation, resulting in a competitive business advantage.

Ed Sulley, Head of Research & Innovation, City Football Services, explained the link between innovation and the success of CFG clubs Manchester City FC, New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, and Yokohama F. Marinos.

City collate and access real time data on a huge number of players, as well as thousands more being scouted throughout the world, he said. The technology helps coaches to measure player performances through live tracking, to assess the prospects of emerging players, and to analyse the impact of variations in tactics. It can assess rehabilitation methods to help players get over injuries, allowing the clubs to apply the most successful recovery techniques. CFG is working closely with SAP to find new and better ways of analysing and receiving that information quickly and effectively.

Turning to CFG’s relationship with Etihad Airways, Mr. Glick said: “Etihad Airways has been inspirational for us in the way they’ve reimagined aviation and air travel. As a group of football clubs with fans all over the world across different time zones and cultures, we are benefitting from understanding Etihad’s innovations in customer service, loyalty and membership programmes.”

Robert Webb, Chief Information and Technology Officer at the Etihad Aviation Group, said: “SAP’s cloud-based software solutions including SuccessFactors, Ariba and HANA are important tools which will embed world class technology across the airline. They will enable Etihad Airways to recruit the world’s best talent as well as support operations in HR, Finance, Procurement and Supply Management.

“Boosting innovation through strategic partnerships is key to our journey and it’s something we live and breathe as an organisation – in terms of the product, service and the hospitality experience.”

Steve Tzikakis, SVP and General Manager, SAP, South Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “In an increasingly globalised and hyper-connected digital economy, sports and aviation are among the most innovative industries using real-time insights to enhance business competitiveness, the customer and fan experience. City Football Group and Etihad Airways demonstrate the UAE’s global leadership in adopting the latest digital innovations. We are proud that through their co-innovation with SAP, they are able to focus and reimagine the passenger and fan experience.”

The event took place at the Etihad Airways Innovation Centre in Abu Dhabi, a new state-of-the-art facility comprising two fully-equipped meeting, project management and research rooms with high-tech audio-visual and IT equipment, as well as an auditorium intended for lectures from global experts in design, service, marketing, and guest experience.