This article first appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of OnWindows.
Spanish football club Real Madrid boasts more than 450 million loyal fans worldwide. However, until recently, it had no way to directly engage with each individual, whether they were cheering the team at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, watching a match on TV, or researching their favourite players via the official website.
Building on its long-term Microsoft partnership, Real Madrid engaged Microsoft Services to develop a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution using Microsoft Azure and Office 365. Microsoft also built a consumer-facing interactive mobile app on its .NET Framework and Visual Studio 2013.
Real Madrid’s PaaS solution is centred around the fan engagement platform, which is hosted on Microsoft Office 365 based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Dynamics Marketing and Power BI. The platform stores every fan interaction, profile update and online merchandise purchases and uses Microsoft Social Engagement to analyse social media posts referencing Real Madrid. Meanwhile the extended video platform, which is hosted on Azure Media Services, uses Azure Media Player to deliver video content to fans.
All aspects of Microsoft’s cloud solution, including the cross-platform mobile apps and supporting web services, use Azure SQL Database, Azure HDInsight and Visual Studio Application Insights to provide telemetry data about how fans interact with the app. This data can be surfaced via Power BI to improve operations.
Now that Real Madrid can capture information about fans’ personal preferences and previous interactions, it can customise promotional campaigns to drive revenue. For example, when fans check in at a match, the club can send a personalised QR code for an in-stadium offer. Plus, the club can proactively deliver relevant content straight to each fan.
“We can create a one-to-one relationship with fans worldwide with Microsoft’s solution, connecting this huge community of people and making the experience of being a supporter of Real Madrid much better,” says José Ángel Sánchez, CEO of Real Madrid. “Our goal is to profile all our supporters and understand who they are to give them what they want from us, such as exclusive content, and bring them closer to the club.”
Looking ahead, Real Madrid plans to use Azure Machine Learning to work directly with coaches to track the status of players and predict seat prices.
“Microsoft Azure is helping us rebuild and reinterpret our business in a way that makes it possible for us and our fans to do things that used to be impossible,” says Sánchez. “It’s a complete disruption of the business model that football has had over the past 15 to 20 years.”
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