Changing the game: The digital transformation of Real Madrid futbol club

We all develop passions early in life that shape who we are. My love for soccer, or as we call it in my native Colombia, futbol, was a powerful force in my youth. For me, futbol was not just about kicking a ball into a goal, but about the power of community. In futbol, I was a member of a community that shared the same passions: an obsessive discipline to become more skilled with the ball and a fierce determination to excel in the sport. These passions, which on the surface seem very individual, actually required a strong community, one that worked tirelessly to grow together as a team, even when personalities clashed, and one that strived to ensure that each and every player became the best they could be.

Through futbol, I came to understand that the team is stronger when individuals are stronger and when individuals know how to communicate on the field and work as one, unstoppable force. Ultimately, futbol taught me to embrace the team as my community, my true extended family. This sense of community is what few futbol clubs have been able to accomplish at real scale. Without a doubt, Real Madrid comes to the top of the list of clubs that are able to make this magic of community happen, generation after generation.

Today, Microsoft and Real Madrid – ranked the “best club of the 20th century” – announced a collaboration agreement that accelerates the digital transformation of the club through technology. This is a four-year vision that will truly change the game for Real Madrid, and enable their fans to enjoy their passion in a unique way.

It’s about the fans

We’re excited to be helping Real Madrid transform their business with Microsoft services and devices, such as how Surface Pro 3 will be used by players and coaching staff as key work tools. But above all, the digital platform we’re designing with Real Madrid is maniacally focused on putting fans at the center, and opening access and control of rich content and experiences that bring them closer to their passion for the game and the team.

Powered by Microsoft’s cloud solutions, we will offer fans exclusive, personalized and customized content and digital services, available at Santiago Bernabéu stadium and from any location through virtual access to the stadium before, during and after each match. So fans will be able to choose not only what content they want to access – but also create their own customized versions of an experience whenever, however, and from wherever. And because sport is intrinsically community oriented, we’re setting up social and other digital ways for fans to share these experiences with friends and family in real time.

Evolving Data Visualization from Static to Dynamic

Alongside the movement of content digitization, one of the most remarkable trends I’ve seen to date is the power of data visualization to illustrate data in more meaningful ways than ever before. Graphics often do a better job communicating a message than numbers or words – as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” These days, we are all used to seeing in newspapers, magazines and the Web, infographics that do a great job of telling a compelling story. But from the moment it is published, the data is out of date, and maybe you wanted to know more or go deeper, but can’t with that image. This is the real revolution with what we are doing with Real Madrid. The vision is to really enable a dynamic platform that will provide incredible capability in reaching insights and uncovering new ideas, giving fans the opportunity to be the drivers of this discovery and the authors of their own stories.

To really bring this to life, in today’s live announcement we showcased the full potential of Microsoft’s Big Data solutions in a demo of data visualization and dynamic data analysis. Harnessing Power BI for Office 365 capabilities, paired with unprecedented access to big data sets from our partners, Marc Reguera, our chief data analyst, showed how easy it will be for fans to build graphic comparisons of players, matches and other key stats – again in a way that is meaningful to each person individually. For sports fans, accessing this type of data in such an easy, yet dynamic way, is truly game changing.

Passion Powers Passion

What I have come to realize in a huge way is that sports and futbol are more than just a game. Whether you are a player or a fan, it’s really about making a commitment to the team, sharing the passion with others, and being a part of a community. Passion is something that you can’t really explain in words or rehearse, and the love of the Real Madrid fans that goes from generation to generation is one of those unexplainable ones, and that is what makes it unique. Through this partnership, Real Madrid fans around the world will be able to get closer to the game, the club and players, and the fan community in ways we never imagined possible. This is a world that can be imagined when centered on the fan, fueled by passion, and powered by today’s technologies and the cloud. But in the end, it is really about helping make the “love for futbol” and Real Madrid continue to be an unstoppable, positive force that make communities around the world smile far beyond the 90 minutes of a game.

Lea este artículo en español.