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5 ways Tour de France is winning the digital race in 2017


And how businesses can learn to win from the sporting industry

Even the undisputed king of cycling events needed to innovate to stay ahead of the peloton. 

Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), organiser of the Tour de France and other pro cycling events, isn’t unlike many of the organisations we’ve helped to transform. A.S.O. recognises the role of technology in transforming the experience for its followers and the media.

The Tour, originally organised as a way to boost sales of L’Auto newspapers, today has 10 million visits to its data-driven Race Center website and 6 million fans across its digital ecosystem.

But A.S.O. recognises that customer experience is about more than just digitising that experience. It needed to revolutionise the experience and bring fans and followers closer to the strategy, tactics, teamwork, and live action. 

The Tour de France was created to boost sales of the newspaper L’Auto and has been on a journey of transformation ever since.

Five innovations at this year’s Tour  
Dimension Data, Official Technology Partner of A.S.O., is helping to deliver an even more immersive experience to fans and followers this year. Read further, or watch the video for the highlights we’re most excited about.


This infographic also provides a visual summary of the innovative technology aspects of the 2017 Tour de France solution.

1. Data analytics – using data insights to predict outcomes

Last year, A.S.O. used data to tell great stories of the Tour, enhancing our understanding of how race tactics and strategy plays out, stage by stage. This year, the solution will create and analyse over 3 billion data points during the course of the Tour to create real-time predictions as the race unfolds. This has never been done before in the history of pro cycling. 

The data analytics platform, hosted in Dimension Data’s cloud, now incorporates algorithms that combine live-tracking data, third-party data, and historical data to give followers a new level of insight at every stage. 

Read this blog by our Tour de France technology leader, Peter Gray, for more about the new predictive features and data visualisation you’ll see during this year’s Tour.

Some of the new ways in which we will visualise data this year includes rider profiles and the #DDpredictor.

While most industries have adopted predictive analytics to some degree, using the cloud can revolutionise the outcome. You can run more analytical processes over a wider range of sources, producing richer visualisations to improve and speed up decision-making. Cloud-based analytics and visualisation allows you to focus on the outcomes and decisions, not on the processing.

2. The Internet of Things brings viewers to the race, not the race to viewers 

During the Tour, GPS-based live tracking devices are installed underneath the saddle of each bike. This year, our sensors under the bikes produce more data, more frequently, to make viewers feel like they’re standing right next to the road.

The sensors produce real-time data for each rider, including speed, position in the peloton, and distances between riders. We combine this constant data feed with third-party data about the course gradient and weather conditions during the race, and marry that with historical data. 

The result of all this data flowing together is new and even more compelling data visualisations, like 3D mapping, and replays overlaid with live data, such as the speed of the riders.

GPS-based live tracking devices are installed underneath the saddle of each bike in the Tour de France.

Across many industries, organisations have begun to realise the power and control they can gain by connecting the physical realm (equipment, computers, sensors) to digital systems. In some hospitals, the Internet of Things has helped to give patients a more human experience; and in community policing, it even helped to make major sporting events like theTour de Yorkshire, safer for the community and the riders alike.

Read this Harvard Business Review article for more the role of IoT in customer engagement across industries.

3. Hybrid IT – be more responsive to your customers

This year, in order to ensure that our Tour de France solution is more agile and responsive to the dynamic race environment, we’ve completely virtualised our mobile data centre. The data centre used to consist of servers installed and run from our big data truck which, in turn, were connected to our cloud. But in 2017, all of our data analytics capability is hosted entirely on the Dimension Data cloud platform. This makes the solution more agile, adaptive, scalable, and less vulnerable to physical circumstances beyond our control.

In addition, we use a range of managed network and data centre services to help simplify the management of this hybrid environment. These globalised services look after our network and wireless connectivity, and take care of monitoring and managing the cloud-based elements of the solution. Our Manage Centre also provides a simplified dashboard as a single, unified window on our services environment from which all managed services are monitored and controlled.

Dimension Data’s Manage Centre provides a unified, single view of the entire manage services environment for easy, simplified monitoring and control.

Few organisations start their digital transformation with a clean technology slate. Dimension Data helps organisations with large technology estates to innovate and transform at the right pace. Read our latest research for more insights and advice about ways to simplify and manage a complex hybrid IT environment.

4. Digital workplace – we’re all in the race, even if we’re not at the race

Whether trouble shooting a problem, or rendering a real-time visualisation for the media, the Dimension Data team can tap into the skills they need worldwide, using HD video, conferencing, and collaboration tools. Inside the big data truck, teams collaborate with international colleagues across four continents to deliver the solution. 

The truck is connected to Dimension Data’s mobile Client Experience Centre, stationed in four different cities across Germany and France at various times during the Tour, as well as the London-based #datahouse, accommodating the data visualisation and publishing team. The technology used in all these work locations creates a virtual end-of-race experience for the team and gives them access to the same video feed as local team members viewing HD display screens inside the truck.

Inside the big data truck, local teams collaborate with colleagues from three continents to deliver the solution.

As with the data infrastructure of the solution, the visual communications environment is supported and managed using our own services. 

In an increasingly globalised business world, the Tour de France digital workplace demonstrates what can be done to enable international teams to work together effectively and efficiently.

5. Cybersecurity – safeguard your most valuable asset, data, in ways that don’t hold you back

Cybersecurity requires a finely tuned balance: it’s about finding innovative ways to ensure data flow remains uninterrupted and reliable at all times, but without restricting the ability to innovate and work freely. Risk less, achieve more.

For the Tour de France, this means we’re safeguarding growing volumes of race information while data flows freely from the bikes, to the cloud, and out to the broadcast media, race commentators, and the general and social media. This ensures that the revolutionary viewing experience we deliver to fans out there stays secure and uninterrupted.<> In 2016, Dimension Data’s own digital infrastructure came under increased attack following higher brand awareness during the Tour de France. Our cybersecurity solution blocked well over a million unauthorised access attempts and foiled as many as 147 ‘bad bot’ attacks.

The fact that all of our workloads within the big data truck have been moved to the cloud ensures more secure data analysis. In addition to our use of cloud-based security controls, our cloud platform itself is certified to the highest security standards through relevant ISO certifications, as well as listed on Cloud Security Alliance’s Security, Trust and Assurance Registry.

Besides all the action and drama you’ve come to expect from one of the world’s most spectacular professional sporting events, the 2017 Tour de France tells a compelling story of transformation.

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