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City Football Group kicks it up with SAP HANA platform

Manchester City F.C. is one of the most successful professional soccer clubs in England, but a few years ago, management decided that this was not enough. They launched an ambitious growth plan as City Football Group that added three more professional teams spanning three continents: New York City F.C. of Major League Soccer, Melbourne City F.C. of Australia's J-League and Yokohama F. Marinos of Japan's J1 League.

This kind of rapid expansion presents management challenges for any business, but it's even tougher in the hyper-competitive world of professional sports. So CFG selected the cloud-based SAP HANA platform to provide its technology backbone.

In this video, Tom Glick of CFG explains how the club uses the SAP HANA platform to help fuel its growth and manage its far-flung clubs. The interview was conducted at the 2016 SAP Sapphire Now, which was held in Orlando May 17 to 19.

The technology partnership with SAP encompasses all aspects of CFG's operations, including the day-to-day business operations, fan interactions and on-field analysis and improvement. Providing these services involves a variety of SAP cloud applications, including Simple Finance, SuccessFactors and SAP Jam.

The power and flexibility of the SAP HANA platform is the key, Glick says in the interview, because the club's business is multifaceted, incorporating the technical side of sports, fan entertainment, media and memberships. Add to that the normal business functions faced by any manufacturing, retail or health care company -- like HR, travel and finance -- and you have a complex organization to run.

"Having a proven platform like HANA was great for us," Glick says. "But also knowing that we can modify and co-innovate with SAP for the big areas of our business -- winning matches, recruiting players that can help us win matches, and also entertaining and engaging our fans across the world -- this, for us, was very exciting about SAP."

Any professional sports team is driven by its fan base, and Glick says that SAP HANA gives CFG the data horsepower to really engage the club's worldwide supporters.

"This is very important because having information and understanding about a match or a team or what a player has done is power for a sports fan," Glick says. "When they go into the office on Monday morning, they can say that they understand what happened or why that was important, so for us on the fans' apps at the stadiums, we have connected stadiums. On the LED displays outside the stadium as they're arriving on the SAP Insight wall, there's more and more statistics that are relevant for their team, for the opposing team, the players that they like, as well as insights to help them understand what's going on in the game." 

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