Cricket Australia is partnering with HCL Technologies to scale its ongoing digital transformation. The multinational replaces former digital technology partner Accenture and will be tasked with creating and managing digital experiences for millions of fans, players, employees, and grassroots cricket communities.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed beyond it being a multiyear agreement. Which-50 understands HCL will also receive some branding rights.
The partnership is ultimately about driving engagement with the sport, through fans, participants and local clubs, according to both parties.
With attendance at Australian matches over the Summer down and the vast majority of cricket fans residing outside Australia, the digital channels may be the best way to do that.
HCL has similar deals in place with football club Manchester United and Volvo’s Ocean race event.
During the announcement in Melbourne today Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts explained how the new partnership goes beyond fan engagement and includes an array of cricket stakeholders like club volunteers.
“It’s critically important that we’ve got a digitally enabled workforce of volunteers providing great experiences for kids and in fact the adults playing the game around the country,” Roberts said.
Cricket Australia is responsible for the applications and digital infrastructure used by cricket clubs around the country. By further digitising some of the tasks, like live scoring, Roberts says it will save thousands of hours volunteers would otherwise be spending on administrative tasks.
“So it’s a great opportunity to help volunteers up to connect with their communities rather than doing administrative stuff in the background.”
HCL executives suggested the “pervasive” nature of digital could open up global audiences for Cricket Australia, including India, where HCL Technologies is headquartered.
Cricket Australia already has several established digital offerings, created with past technology partners including Accenture. The Cricket Australia App has been downloaded 8 million times, contributing to 1.4billion views of Cricket Australia videos in the last season.
But HCL Technologies executive vice president and country manager ANZ, Michael Horton told Which-50 its plans include an “overhaul” of some of Cricket Australia’s digital offerings, like the app, to add more personalisation and integration.
“The vision is that we will set it up as a platform of platforms that can address cricket Australia’s needs across all segments of the sport. So not just the elite team. But from the kids at schools, through coaches.
“So it’s both fan engagement as well as player engagement at all levels.”
Horton said the standing up enterprise applications can now be achieved in a matter of weeks rather than the years it had traditionally taken in the past.
HCL which pitches its customers on an ability to scale digital initiatives throughout an organisation, said it will deploy its Scale Digital methodology to link Cricket Australia digital platforms, services and application into a single “cloud native, auto-scalable architecture”.
The priority will be a safe transition to the new platform, before expanding into new initiatives and delivering at scale, according to Sachin Bajaj, HCL technologies head of digital and analytics.
“I think this partnership is all about building that scalable technology for the next generation. We heard of millions of downloads but that’s going to quadruple very soon.”
After the “safe landing” from the previous technology partner, Bajaj says there are plans to grow audiences and scale with an “agile” approach, involving three pillars of digital transformation.
According to Bajaj, the first pillar is fan and community engagement, followed by innovative technology like augmented and virtual reality to take “the stadium back into the fan’s house”, and finally security.
Bajaj said there is plenty of room to do more with the broader cricket community, like sharing more of players’ journeys to the professional level.
“Today, what you communicate back to a fan is a score is a matter of date,” he said. “But we cannot, at this point in time, communicate the life of a cricketer.
“So for us, that is going to be one of the aspirations we work towards, in terms of saying, what does it take to become a great cricketer … And that’s when fan engagement will really become true engagement. And it will go beyond just information to being associated with the game.”