The way we consume and engage with sporting events today is putting greater pressure on businesses delivering related services and experiences. They have to succeed in a new playing field with vastly different expectations from consumers.

It has been said that the 2014 FIFA World Cup was the most social sporting event ever. Sports fans today do not only watch a global sports event on live television or live streaming on their computers or mobile devices, they also search for additional information in real-time, and make full use of mobile apps and social media to share video replays, commentaries, and the latest scores.

Consider a bank running a football marketing campaign through a mobile app. Now, imagine an app meltdown due to a surge of traffic from this campaign. The bank loses revenues. There is loss of trust. And, the bank’s reputation suffers.

Today, nothing wins business and gains confidence more than customer experience, which is now, more than ever, tied to the experience had on applications.

Tackling the challenge

To win in today’s application economy, businesses not only need to score with innovative services and experiences, they have to play a flawless defense in ensuring reliability, availability and security of these services and experiences.

The recipe to success? 80% Preparation/20% Execution. During a global sporting event, the volume of traffic and demand can be extremely unpredictable due to sudden surges in transactions and engagements. Businesses must be prepared for these occurrences in order to benefit.

Businesses must also ensure their IT infrastructures are ready to handle a volatile and unpredictable volume of network traffic while delivering a consistent, uninterrupted user experience. Comprehensive monitoring tools can provide up-to-date and near real-time information on your business performance so you are instantly alerted when things are starting to go south.

Securing the infrastructure will be especially critical this time, when competitors and unhappy customers share problems at the speed of a tweet. Safeguard your infrastructure and your customers by installing up-to-date security software, secured wireless networks to prevent breaches, phishing, malware and more.

If potential problems are identified early, businesses can decide how to address them before the customer is affected. These three steps are essential for businesses involved in live sporting events to ensure that fans are served quickly, securely, and consistently:

1. Monitoring: Businesses need to be able to tell if their apps, computing resources, network infrastructure and even the cloud services are performing as expected.

Equally important, security intrusions or unauthorized behavior can also be identified through monitoring, and augmented with identity and access management solutions for open and secure customer experience.

2. Resilience-testing: Businesses must stress-test apps thoroughly before they go into production. An app may work if there are 10,000 users, but fail when there are 100,000. A robust testing lifecycle can enhance the next iteration of the app.

Application delivery solutions and services can also help businesses with capacity management. The technology can help to determine the right size for a datacenter and how the infrastructure and budget may need to change if additional traffic is projected.

Cloud services are ideal for some requirements as the business does not have to support the physical infrastructure in-house, and can easily scale as more customers come on board.

3. Fixing it fast: Businesses tend to assume that their infrastructure can stand up to a global sporting event if they have run smaller scale campaigns successfully in the past. Businesses should now be prepared for any contingency as no one can forecast what may go viral and impact the infrastructure. Make sure all the required subscriptions are in place so that any requests are filled smoothly, minimizing downtime and the impact on the customer. Be prepared to make changes on the fly as time is money and reputation in any business. 

Global sporting events are golden opportunities for businesses and brands to connect with their customers more closely, and to create a lasting and positive association in their minds with an activity they love. Many CIOs may feel that they have got things covered, however we still read about businesses unable to cope when too many customers come visiting, even today.

There are many strategies to winning a football game. The big question is – do you have the right strategy to play successfully in this ever connected global playing field?