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How Manchester United is scoring with tech to meet its goal of a digital future

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels June 6, 2024
The football club is working to transform performance on the pitch and across other operational areas.

manchester united

Technology plays an ever-increasing role at world-famous sports organization Manchester United, both on and off the pitch according to Attiq Qureshi, the club’s Chief Digital Information Officer, who states :

I say to people that technology is shifting from a supporting to an empowering role.

Manchester United is more than a soccer team. It’s a big business with 1,200 employees and a range of other supporting activities, including creating and broadcasting content, building web and mobile app platforms, and managing visitor hospitality. Qureshi explains:

We are a significant B2B organization with many commercial partnerships. We're also a massive B2C organisation. We have 1.1 billion followers on any typical match day and a million people use our web and app platform. We get 70,000-plus supporters for every match and a similar number visit the ground during the month for events, the museum, the tour and the megastore.

Manchester United works with TeamViewer to implement systems and services that support these activities. The club uses TeamViewer’s capabilities to enhance back-end operations and the fan experience, including maintaining 24/7 broadcasting and pushing real-time content to supporters. Ground staff, meanwhile, use a remote access app to control irrigation systems at Old Trafford and the club’s Carrington training ground. Qureshi says:

We use it in a wide spectrum of areas. The football analysts use it to support the football coaches and we use it in the megastore to do stock takes. We use the technology to deliver content, so that’s about supporting our knowledge workers, and the grounds people use the technology to help support the irrigation in the pitch. So, our use of the technology is about efficiency and effectiveness across the club.

Boasting performance

Staff working in the club’s megastore use headsets with TeamViewer augmented reality software to speed up stocktaking processes, says Qureshi:

Stocktaking consisted of taking notes on paper, going to a computer screen and typing the results into a PC. Now, our staff use the TeamViewer solution to stock take in real-time. They use their headsets and finger-held scanners. They scan barcodes and enter the count via voice activation. It's made a cumbersome process much more efficient.

Football analysts can also share performance data using TeamViewer Tensor connectivity platform, which allows them to securely access files from anywhere around the world. Qureshi explains:

Data is super-important in sport and its role continues to grow. The data can be structured and unstructured. It's about our players, the other teams’ players, videos and notes. In the past, our analysts used to take their computers with them – and that's not very efficient, effective or secure. Now, our analysts can use TeamViewer to access data remotely more quickly and securely.

Scoring goals

The club’s work with TeamViewer fits into a broader digital transformation plan that aims to improve different parts of the organization. There are other transformation programs underway. Manchester United is in the process of shifting to digital ticketing, which will help fans to share tickets and prevent touting. Qureshi says:

It's about empowering football and the fan experience and supporting our ESG agenda and revenue generation. It’s also about giving our frontline colleagues the tools and technologies they need to help them do their jobs. It’s elevating all of those parts and TeamViewer works across those areas. Our work is not about taking big bets. It's about pragmatic, real benefits and delivering value.

Qureshi says the club is also exploring what to do with its stadium. The club could redevelop its existing Old Trafford home or move to a new site nearby:

Both of those approaches will require significant amounts of technology. The technology touches everything from how we serve customers, the augmentation, and the enrichment of the experience for fans in the stadium, and safety, ESG, and the Internet of Things.

Qureshi paints a picture of what the digitally-enabled future of Manchester United Football Club might look like:

It would be one of the best stadiums in the world. The technology journey would start before you arrive at the stadium – we’d guide you on where to go and where to park. There'd be a digital experience even before you arrive. Maybe you could explore your seat view or get content that builds up the experience. And you'd be able to share those digital assets around the globe.

Access to data would be universal and increased digitization would also take place behind the scenes, he adds:

Technology would just be embedded in everything we do. Our frontline colleagues would have the best tools to allow them to do their jobs most efficiently. For example, if you're doing security controls and checks, that process would be further enhanced with TeamViewer-style products. There would be instructions and validations that you carried out your duties correctly.

As to the role that TeamViewer might play in the future, use cases are being explored, says Qureshi, who advises:

Be curious about the opportunities to use the product across your organisation. In the past, the technology was associated with remote access and now their suite is much more advanced. We captured the problems and then tested them with TeamViewer. In some cases, we ran proof-of-concepts and the solution wasn't the right answer. But some of those concepts turned into embedded processes that are now long-lived.

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