Team Dimension Data: the tech behind the businessBlog
What technology helps to keep Team Dimension Data on the road and their fans informed?
For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, getting to the starting line requires not only lots of training, but also the support of a team of behind-the-scenes heroes. It’s easy to forget that even a UCI WorldTour team is a business with many of the same needs as any global venture.
When you see one of the riders out on the road, pedalling to get into the break or going for the win, keep in mind that just getting the bike to the start is a complex logistical operation. Every rider in the team has six bikes: two that they use for training at home (a race bike and a time-trial bike), and for the actual race itself, they each have three race bikes and two time-trial bikes. We always have three bikes per rider for the race, because we need one spare bike on each of the two cars that follow the race. This is to ensure that, should something go wrong with their race bike, we can get them back in action as quickly as possible.
There are three key items that we need to make sure that we’re able to keep track of: bikes, rain bags, and helmets. Inside the rain bag is where the rider keeps a lot of his kit – shoes, rain jackets, gloves – almost everything else that’s needed to compete in a race.
The Team bus, home away from home for Team Dimension Data
Often these rain bags are kept in the directeur sportif’s car, so keeping track of where they are can be a challenge. A particular challenge we face is when, at short notice, we need to switch a rider from a squad preparing for one race, to a squad preparing for another. This kind of switch – which typically happens at the last moment – requires that we get the rider, his bikes, and all his kit from one country to another so that he can be at the starting line with the rest of the team.
We’re working with Dimension Data to help us use technology to ensure that we have visibility of these key assets wherever they are. Having technology that allows us to do this will make our life a lot easier and improve the overall efficiency of the team.
Keeping stock under control
Patrick Baransky, Head of Operations and Logistics for Team Dimension Data
Another challenge for us is the issue of stock control. When we’re getting ready for a race, the mechanics take everything they need out of the warehouse and load it onto the truck going to the race. We do regular stock checks and replenish what’s running low. But even with the available technology, it would be too time consuming to check-out and check-in every component. The complexity of the modern bike means that we need to ensure we have enough spares for all the components on hand at a race. For a long race like the Tour de France, this is even more important.
When trying to find better solutions, we have to make sure that any systems we use are simple enough for everyone. While our people are great at what they do, they’re not all native English speakers. A simpler approach often makes it easier for them.
Some parts of this may seem a little low-tech, but when it comes to fan-engagement, however, we simply couldn’t get by without technology.
Keeping the fans in the loop
Damian Murphy, Head of PR & Marketing for Team Dimension Data
Social media has changed the game when it comes to interacting with the people who support the team. Considering that a large proportion of our fans are from South Africa and will not often get a chance the see the team racing in person, it’s vital that we use the available technology to keep them connected to the team.
Depending on the platform we’re using, we must tweak the kind of message we put out. Twitter is best for in-race updates, while Facebook and Instagram are the preferred places for fans to interact at the moment.
The team has a slightly different demographic of fans from many other teams because of the strong social responsibility component we have Qhubeka. This also allows us to embed a stronger call to action than might otherwise be possible.
A great example of this was during the Giro d’ Italia where we aimed to raised 100 bikes for girls with our Giro 100 campaign. By the end of the race, we’d raised 170 bicycles through the support of our fans. We were also able to use the social media presences of our partners and provide them with pre-packaged material that they could use to engage with their followers. This widens our reach considerably.
While we’re able to quite effectively interact with our fans on these platforms, as well as with the launch of the Africa’s Team app, connectivity when out on races is always a challenge.
Team Dimension Data keeps connected to fans via the Africa’s Team app.
Often, we’re trying to give live updates from quite remote locations and connectivity is sometimes patchy. To compensate for that and to make sure we have a consistent voice on all our channels, we send our posts back to the team in South Africa who can then post to all the different platforms.
For all elements of the Team, technology is critical for success. Whether it’s keeping the riders on the road, or interacting with our fan base, taking advantage of technology makes the Team more efficient.