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The City Football Group (CFG), owners of Manchester City FC, New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, and a minority stake in Yokohama F-Marinos, has announced a strategic partnership with SAP to help it meet its transformational ambitions. The partnership goes much deeper than the provision of technology. The organization’s CEO, Ferran Soriano, said that CFG has a real hunger for innovation; for giving fans more opportunity to get closer to the game; for improving player, coaching, and team performance; and for running the entire business on SAP S/4HANA in the cloud.

Creating the digital enterprise for the fans, the players, and the business – Design Thinking and SAP S/4HANA

There is no doubting Soriano’s appetite for innovation. In an environment where player wages continue their stratospheric rise, he wants to push the boundaries and find ways to harness the wealth of player data stretching back more than 20 years and help his organization’s four clubs gain insights from one other to drive success from the boardroom to the field.

The first priority is to greatly improve operational performance of the business by simplifying processes end-to-end and running everything on S/4HANA. An innovation team will also take the long view, working with SAP’s Design Thinking consultants to invent new forms of value. The list of ideas is growing rapidly, but there are three areas of immediate focus.

First, CFG will seek to build on SAP Sports 1, developed through SAP’s partnership with Bayern Munich and 1899 Hoffenheim and used with success by the German World Cup winners in 2014, to provide deeper insight into tactics, player performance, and skills development. The aim will be to find new ways to win and to continuously refresh the talent pool by finding young players before other clubs.

Second, the organization will seek to minimize player injuries and improve recuperation times by analyzing the stresses and strains of modern football, focusing on the unique physiological and psychological profiles of players and how they react to different treatments.

Third, it will look to bring fans closer to the game, wherever they are around the world, by co-innovating with SAP to create new engagement experiences. These may include real-time player analysis during football matches to quench the fans’ thirst for more information on their footballing heroes. SAP hybris running on S/4HANA will also help to provide a more personalized and intent-driven experience by teeing up relevant content or rewarding loyal fans with relevant offers and increased opportunities to develop closer relationships with the club they support and its players.

This is certainly a great strategic partnership for SAP and, with co-innovation underpinning the relationship, it should be a rewarding experience for CFG, its stable of clubs, and – above all – fans around the world.


Further reading

The Customer-Adaptive Imperative, IT0020-000091 (March 2015)


Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

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