Data Federations Sport Strategy

61% Of All Sports Organisations Do Not Use Data For Their Overall Strategy

June 3, 2021

This statistic has been calculated by the Data Maturity Model in research conducted by Bas Schnater and Geoff Wilson.

The Model has been in the making for more than 18 months and it has been tested by over 50 clubs and federations from the Premier League, La Liga, MLS and various national football associations. The aim of the Model is to provide these and all clubs and federations with detailed insight into the data maturity of their sports organisation.

Other insights:

  • 37% of sports organisations have a one year data strategy.
  • Only 10% of sports organisations have communicated their data objectives across their entire organisation, with 25% communicating it only to senior staff.
  • 32% of organisations never review their data objectives.
  • 29% of sports organisations do not use any form of segmentation within email campaigns.

“It is interesting to see that most organisations have invested in using their fan data to personalise fan experiences, but many basic processes are still lacking,” Geoff Wilson states.

“Still, 25% of organisations do not proactively capture fan data. Plus, of that data, only 51% of organisations collect it in a centralised place.

“It means that organisations still work with a lot of separate data sources which limits marketing as well as a general understanding of the fan.”

Figure 1 example output, comparing two entries with an industry average (grey area)

Data expertise

Sports organisations often struggle to increase data expertise throughout their organisation. For instance, 33% of sports organisations say they have only one person with the appropriate knowledge of data. Only 7.5% of organisations claim that expertise resides in several of the organisation’s departments.

“25% of the organisations still say that no one in the organisation has any expertise on how to work with data,” Wilson reports. “If they have the ambition to become data-driven, it is vital to invest in the right people.”

If an organisation does have data expertise, it is more than likely found within the marketing, digital or IT departments.

First name personalisation

Of all the different personalisation tools, addressing a fan by their first name is the most popular, with 80% of sports organisations choosing to use it. Additionally, 45% of organisations personalise the subject line or use transactional history for customer segmentation.

Bas Schnater says: “Using transactional history to segment is an important way of communicating in a relevant way. It stops irritation by receiving emails which are relevant to you.”

Insight sharing

Sports organisations often fall short when it comes to sharing data insights with everyone from within their organisation. Data dashboards are a valuable source for insight sharing but 30% of organisations do not use one. From the organisations that do use dashboards, 28% have static automated dashboards and 19% use interactive ones which allows them to select and update data based on certain criteria.

47% of organisations have an internal reporting system in place. However, a number of organisations do not use the data insights to draw conclusions, as 41% claim they do not use any data insights when making decisions.

“Having data reporting systems in place is not enough to create digital transformation. You still need human activation,” Bas Schnater claims.

He explains further: “You can have all the data in the world organized and structured, but by itself it doesn’t do anything. It’s like pulling electricity cables through the house to have every room connected to the power network, but then not having the intent to connect any electronic device to it. Or worse: you’re not letting anyone else use that device”.

Using data to make decisions

Only 39% of sports organisations use their dashboards to understand previous customer trends. Yet, using dashboards is an effective method if you’re preparing for a new season ticket campaign and to gain valuable insights on past purchase behaviour.

Within data mature organizations, dashboards are used to understand what has occurred in the past, and what could happen in the future. “This can be very useful for sports organizations, for example during season ticket campaigns, when you have created a trend line and you want to understand whether you are still on track with your sales,” Schnater reports.

Digital audience tracking

Digital audience tracking is one area where sports organisations can make major improvements.

“It is surprising that although many organisations had to turn to digital fan engagement during the Coronavirus pandemic, most sports organisations (54%) do not use any tool to track website behaviour,” Schnater says.

Google Analytics is an easy option for a lot of organisations with 69% choosing to use the tool. Another popular marketing practise is to have a Customer Data Platform (CDP) installed. This method is utilised by 15% of organisations and it provides detailed insights into web behaviour.

Wilson continued, “The Data Maturity Model research is the first attempt to provide industry-wide insights on the ‘state’ of data maturity. For participating organisations, the Model’s output indicates a clear roadmap for the future and outlines the next steps to take”.

About The Data Maturity Model

The Data Maturity Model fills a gap in the industry literature and was created to accurately assess the maturity of a sports organization in terms of their data. It aims to pinpoint the areas where an organization is managing data well and what they can still improve on. It is a project which has been one year in the making and has been co-authored by Bas Schnater and Geoff Wilson, who both have extensive experience working with global sports organisations. The model has been back tested with known organizations and tested by major sports organizations in Spain, England, Scotland, The Netherlands, the Americas, and Australia.

Who is it for?

The Data Maturity Model enables an accurate assessment of the maturity of a sports organization’s data organization. It aims to pinpoint the areas where an organization is managing data well and what they need to improve on to make data beneficial on a wider scale inside an organization. It is fit for use by clubs, leagues, and national associations across various sports.  

How does it work?

The sports organisation completes an online questionnaire which takes no more than 30 minutes. The questions focus on several areas of organizational data maturity and an algorithm helps to produce a score for each area. A simple and elegant yet efficient visualization helps the organization to interpret the results to see exactly where their use of data could be improved. In addition, a calculation is shown against the industry average (calculated via the average of all other entries) providing a valuable insight in terms of their rating against other sports organizations. Also, the model also facilitates comparison between two measures, for example year-on-year measure, a comparison between managers of various departments or senior staff vs. directors.

 The maturity score is provided in the following areas:

  1. Data strategy – Has your organization set clear data objectives in their corporate or marketing plans?
  2. Data capture – How is your organization capturing data from multiple sources?
  3. Data storage – Where are you storing the data?
  4. Data expertise – What expertise exists within your club or Federation regarding data and are you able to analyse and understand it?
  5. Data Security – How safe is your data from unauthorized access and data corruption?
  6. Visualisation and Reporting – Does your organization produce dashboards and other visualizing and reporting tools to help provide meaningful insights?
  7. Data Analytics – Do you conduct in-depth analysis on your data?
  8. Marketing Campaign – Do you use data for targeted and personalized marketing campaigns?
  9. Health Management – What is the state of your data?

If you work for a sports CLUB, FEDERATION OR organization and you want to audit your organization’s maturity, you can do by filling in this form. In the FOLLOWING days, you will receive your personalized score.

About The Authors

Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA, UEFA, AFC and FIBA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism Northern Ireland. You can follow Geoff on Twitter @geoffwnjwilson connect on Linkedin at

Bas Schnater is an independent sports business consultant who uses data analytics & science to improve fan engagement and to improve revenues. Bas has worked for various types of clients ranging from governing bodies, clubs, and leagues. You can follow Bas on Twitter and LinkedIn and find all the content he featured in via his website

Data Federations Sport Strategy