Joscha Thieringer
Joscha Thieringer

ISPO Digitize Offers Consulting, Cooperation and New Opportunities

Digitalization: Business Models in the Sports Industry Need to Adapt

Threat or opportunity? Opinions on the digitalization of the sports industry differ widely, but one thing is certain to everyone: sitting out is not an option. One year after its launch, ISPO Digitize has established itself as a companion through digitalization for retailers and sports companies. The platform demonstrated this, too, at ISPO Munich 2019.

Der ASB GlassFloor war einer der Hingucker der ISPO Digitize Area auf der ISPO Munich.
The ASB GlassFloor was one of the eye-catchers of the ISPO Digitize Area at ISPO Munich.

"Does the sports industry oversleep the process of digitalization?", "Retailers lag behind in digitalization" - many of the news about the digital transformation in the sports business have negative connotations.

At the same time, there is enthusiastic talk about young start-ups who are allegedly turning the sports market upside down with their innovative digital products. And the sporting goods giants Adidas and Nike as well as the big US technology companies Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple will be the winners anyway.

Digitalization is such a large and abstract term - where should a sports retailer or medium-sized sports entrepreneur start?

First Option: Radical Rethinking

The most radical possibility: Invest massively in the latest technology, hire expensive digital strategists, overthrow your business model, separate yourself from analog employees and structures, rely on influencer marketing and open offices in Beijing, New York and London.

The radical cut can work, but it probably won't. Especially not if you have to give up your brand identity.

Second Option: Wait and See

As a sports retailer or entrepreneur, you can of course just wait until the phenomenon of digitalization resolves itself. Okay - a Facebook profile on which you can wish all customers and business partners a Merry Christmas and a Happy Easter is already in. But the old POS system is still working, so why change it? Even if the data is going into nirvana...

Again, this approach is not automatically doomed to failure if you have a solid customer base that is loyal to you. However, the statistics show that the situation for analogue retailers is getting tighter every year.

Don't miss the annual event for the digitalization of the sports business! The ISPO Digitize Summit 2020 will take place in Munich on June 30, 2020.

Third Option: Get Advice, Cooperate, Seize Opportunities

The exaggerated presentation of options one and two suggest that neither blind actionism nor shock inflexibility will help to meet the challenges of digitalization. But sports retailers and the sports industry should definitely take action to explore their possibilities. "Not to think digitally is not an option," said Stefan Herzog, Secretary General of the Association of German Sports Retailers (VDS).

This is exactly where ISPO Digitize comes in. ISPO's latest service has set itself the task to accompany sports retailers, entrepreneurs and the sports industry during the digital transformation. At all levels, from beginners to digital professionals.

ISPO Digitize Brings eSports to Life

ISPO Digitize illustrates the digital possibilities in an unpretentious way. The area in the new Hall C6 at ISPO Munich 2019 was received with great interest by the trade visitors because it enabled them to experience abstract terms and thus reduced fear of contact.

eSports for example. This mass phenomenon celebrated its premiere in 2019, one year before the 50th birthday of ISPO Munich. Not with the aim of turning the sports fair into a gaming convention, but with the aim of getting to know two worlds that so far have had few points of intersection, but sometimes the same target group.

And nowhere at the entire ISPO Munich one could see so many amazed faces as on the interactive hall floor ASB GlassFloor.

"We are very happy that ISPO Digitize is so well received", said Tobias Gröber, Director of the ISPO Group. "The demand is getting bigger and bigger and I'm sure that we will be able to increase the numbers at the ISPO Digitize Summit on July 3rd and 4th, 2019."

Understanding Digitalization

Those who followed the keynotes on the ISPO Academy stage were bound to notice: The speakers by no means spoke out unreservedly in favor of the digital transformation, but offered a differentiated view. "Digitalization does not mean hanging as many iPads as possible in the store," emphasized Philipp Beck from atelier 522 in his lecture "The Future of Stationary Retail".

Already at the first ISPO Digitize Summit, futurologist Prof. Bernd Thomsen explained in a remarkable keynote speech: "Don't forget: Digitalization is only one of maybe 25 assets of the future".

Who Is Ready for the Digital Future?

Watch, listen, discuss - and what's next? Even when it comes to operationalization, ISPO Digitize does not let the sports industry down: The VDS Digital Fitness Check tests whether the respective sports retailer is ready for digital transformation.

"In many places there is simply a lack of personnel skills for implementing new technologies," explained Prof. Dr. Karl-Peter Fischer from the University of Applied Management. "In addition, many analog errors are uncovered by the digitalization. Many don't even know who their target group is, what their needs are and what the customer journey should be like."

The scientific, standardized questionnaire ensures that the VDS Digital Fitness Check provides dealers with valuable information without having to invest huge sums in a management consultancy.

Learning from Tony Hawk: Analogue and Digital World United

Tony Hawk, too, brought free insights and exciting anecdotes to the visitors of ISPO Munich. The skate legend from California gave the keynote speech at the ISPO Digitize Pioneers Night in front of hundreds of listeners. "I've always welcomed new technologies with open arms," said the superstar, "you need to know what moves people out there and adjust to it."

When Tony Hawk's financial situation was no longer satisfactory in 1999, he was neither blinded by actionism nor shocked by rigidity. Instead, he chose Option 3, combining the best of the analog and digital worlds and bringing his own video game on the market.

In the interview he looked back: "I worked very closely with the developers and at the same time, of course, I continued to skate."

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Joscha Thieringer
Joscha Thieringer