Start-ups use cloud to create online communities of Olympics fans

It is Olympics time again and how fast the world of technology has accelerated in four years since the last Games. In 2008, social media still felt relatively new, now it is a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, including how we talk and track sport.

So, it is no surprise to me that there are technology start-ups out there who are harnessing the power of social media and creating online communities to help the sports industry and fans communicate and collaborate. Three examples within the BizSpark program in Europe are Sports New Media in the UK, Socceralia in Italy and Entetrainer in Finland (all of which are on the Windows Azure cloud platform).

London-based Sports New Media is an online media company that specialises in partnerships with high profile sporting associations and athletes, to help them keep in touch with their fans and where appropriate, work with brands or sponsors. Arguably Sports New Media’s most successful project so far has been how it works with its clients to target consumers through the mass medium of Facebook and then track these posts to measure marketing success. IOC, IMG and Wayne Rooney are just three entities who have used this award-winning service so far.

My second example is Socceralia, a service from Touch1st SL, a Barcelona-based company launched in 2009. It combines huge experience of the sports market with technology expertise. Socceralia enables users that support the same team to ‘gather’ in their club’s channel, though they can also visit other clubs’ channels too. Within this environment, soccer supporters can post news from other online media, create their own posts, create surveys and pose questions to each other – in other words, it is all about creating a community of shared interest.

Finnish start-up Entetrainer has created a clever mobile app called Speedhero, which makes it simple for any smartphone user to record ball speed. This replaces conventional ball speed devices which are notoriously ineffective, plus the results can be shared via the cloud. The app has already been developed for hockey but it is applicable to football and at least 15 other sports. Entetrainer was a finalist at this year’s BizSpark European Summit and won the Helsinki Mobile Acceleration Week 2012. Entetrainer intends to form partnerships with sports associations and other organisations worldwide.

These are just three examples of companies who are using cloud, mobile and other innovative technologies to communicate interactively with target audiences – not just sports groups and fans, but all kinds of communities. Whoever the medal winners at London 2012 are, we can be sure that the power of social media will be keeping sports enthusiasts well informed.

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