IBM’s Online Wimbledon #MakeTheTeam Game Aims To Make Data Entry Fun

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IBM, Wimbledon’s long term data partner, has launched an online game – #MakeTheTeam – to enable fans to test their own ability to capture data points and thus to try and make ‘data entry’ fun.


#MakeTheTeam (see is a consumer-facing gaming strand of IBM’s wider, data-led Wimbledon partnership activation.

It was developed in harness with customer-engagement agency OgilvyOne UK, offers tennis fans an insight into what life is like as an IBM data capturer at The All England Club.


The new desktop game challenges tennis lovers and data fiends to try their hand at logging match data – from forehands, backhands, aces, faults and lets and then analyse winning shot types and locations.


Players go to game website and enter a code, then the desktop screen plays a video of a point at Wimbledon.


Using a synced mobile device as a controller, there are four games, although only one is accessible without the player logging in with a Facebook account.


Once logged in, each individual’s scores are added to the overall leaderboard and Centre Court tickets for Wimbledon 2016 are on offer for the winners.


The gaming site includes a video explanation and introduction (see


IBM promotes its overall data partnership with Wimbledon across multiple channels, including a new flagship  ‘I Am The Data’ online spot,



and a ‘Smarter Tennis Experiences’ film.



Each day IBM is also running daily IBM Wimbledon insights video clips on its own YouTube channel – such as ‘Day One’,



and ‘Day Two’.




IBM actually recruits more than 50 tennis and tech experts (largely young tennis players) each year to fulfil its technical data partnership with Wimbledon.


They are all trained to capture the tournament’s tennis data in real-time – thus providing the data points that fuel both Wimbledon’s own live data services and the 1000s of real-time graphics the organisers supply to their broadcast partners throughout the tournament.


Take ball-tracking device Hawkeye alone – IBM’s team capture, log and assess all of the system’s 3.2m data points at each tournament.


For each game on Centre and Number One courts, three data capturers sit courtside in a data box recording and noting game stats.


They are assisted and their work is checked by a further person inside IBM’s ‘tech bunker’, while an operations manager oversees the process and provides an additional layer of checks.


The overall objective for IBM’s Wimbledon technology bunker is to ensure the right information reaches the right people at just the right time.


The team’s aim is to take contextual real-time data capture and output to another level.


One room in the bunker is for live data coming in, live social media data and locational specific website threat data management, whilst the other is for outbound data updates (from contextual tweets to broadcaster statistical information) for the general public, for committed tennis fans and for the media.



The data aim is simple – to provide 100% scoring accuracy within one second of the score or shot.


This year also sees IBM work with its new cognitive artificial intelligence demonstrator ‘Watson’.



2015 sees Wimbledon trial new ways of exploiting, presenting and amplifying all this data – partly through a major redesign of its website, as well as through social media channels.


IBM’s 2015 redesigned website is choc-o-bloc full of innovative and powerful digital tools based on its data collection and analysis.


These range from its predictive analytics dashboard ‘Slamtracker’ (see which shows real-time statistics and analysis of the game play (from serve speeds to ‘winners’) alongside mined data from past Grand Slam tournaments to provide historical head-to-head match-up statistics.


‘For the first time we are helping [Wimbledon staff] by notifying anything of interest, such as the fastest ball ever served,’ explains IBM’s Wimbledon liaison Sam Seddon.


In fact, IBM has compiled around a million pages worth of records and results – collected since 1877 when the  championships was first played – to enable analysts to match today’s data with the stats from yesteryear.


Thus shedding significant light on what certain layers need to change and do to win matches.


‘We tried to raise the bar to create a digital platform for all those who can’t come to the ground. Our digital properties are an exclusive source of live scoring, and there’s a huge amount of information there,’ explains Wimbledon’s head of digital and content Alexandra Willis.


‘We are doing some stats analysis videos with [partner] IBM, which is all [about] painting a picture around a match, but not in a geeky way – more in a tactics way.’


As it continues to try and move away from its previous old-school, traditionalist and exclusive positioning and appeal to younger, dynamic viewers seeking interaction and participation, has undergone a major design with a fresh responsive and adaptive layout.


Part of this is refresh is offering richer video content, including stats analysis videos with IBM which paint a data picture around a match from a tactical point-of-view.


‘It’s really trying to tease out bits people don’t see – like all the ground staff going around with metal poles picking out dirt from the paving stones. It’s the story that Wimbledon is perfection,’ adds Willis.


As well as working with IBM, Wimbledon is also working with video platform Brightcove on its new approach to video content.


This includes ‘Live@Wimbledon’, a digital news channel aiming to give viewers a genuine sense of what’s happening off the courts and being-the-scenes (perhaps because broadcast rights restrictions prevent Wimbledon from streaming whole matches).




IBM isn’t a brand that has always been thought of as being all about fun, games and play, so the #MakeTheTeam strand of its Wimbledon 2015 work certainly feels fairly fresh for the brand.


But making ‘data entry’ fun, well, that is nigh on impossible.


This year’s data-led refresh is an ongoing evolution of IBM’s 15-year partnership with Wimbledon.


Indeed, the company first signed a partnership deal as the official supplier of technology for Wimbledon back in 1990 when it produced a website that looked distinctly different from today (see


Since then the site has changed beyond all recognition and the 2014 version of the official site attracted a huge 17 million unique visitors during the two weeks of the tournament.


Shortly before the start of this year’s tournament, IBM announced it had extended its contract with Wimbledon for another five years.




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