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TSG Hoffenheim: One Team, One Software Platform

TSG Hoffenheim: One Team, One Software Platform
With more than 4 billion fans, soccer – or “football,” as it’s called everywhere but in the United States and Canada – is by far the world’s most popular sport. It’s also lucrative. Measuring their value in the billions of dollars, top-earning teams include Manchester United (US$3.69 billion), Barcelona ($3.64 billion), Real Madrid ($3.58 billion), Bayern Munich ($2.71 billion), and Manchester City ($2.08 billion).

But the game and the business of soccer are changing fast. Around the world, teams increasingly rely on innovative technology and data analytics to compete and win.

That’s certainly true for German soccer team TSG Hoffenheim. With a slogan of “One team, one way, the one and only,” the team is finding a unique way forward with SAP technology.

“When you talk about soccer, technology doesn’t immediately come to mind,”
says Dr. Peter Goerlich, CEO of TSG Hoffenheim. “But there are increasing demands on everything surrounding it – on the players as well as the soccer club. So in this classic game of soccer, there’s actually technology hidden everywhere.”

Scoring Better Data, Training Better Athletes
TSG Hoffenheim competed as an amateur team for decades. But in the early 2000s it rapidly advanced with the backing of former club player and SAP cofounder Dietmar Hopp. By 2008, the team had risen to 16th place in the top tier of the German football league. In 2017, it reached a world ranking of 61 out of nearly 1,000 teams. Today, TSG Hoffenheim is one of the hottest clubs in Europe.

Much of this success is the result of innovative coaching and on-the-field wizardry. But no small part can be attributed to the organization’s digital transformation as it runs live with SAP solutions.

TSG Hoffenheim is using the SAP Sports One solution to identify, acquire, and develop its athletic talent. The end-to-end solution allows the team to rapidly evaluate players and uncover insights that lead to winning strategies. During both training and matches, sensors embedded in player uniforms capture on-the-field data – such as ball touches, playing time, and heartrate – and communicate that information to coaches in real time.

Coaches and physiotherapists gain detailed visibility into each athlete’s physical condition, training status, and match performance. “We’d like to predict if a player is in danger of overtraining or whether he’s doing well,” explains Julian Nagelsmann, head coach of TSG Hoffenheim.

Players receive personalized training and health plans to optimize preparation and performance for each match. They can also provide their own input. “A player’s individual factors are important,” notes Rafael Hoffner, head of IT and sports innovation for TSG Hoffenheim. “A player can give direct feedback on his fitness – as simple as possible, directly via his smartphone – and we can collect that in SAP Sports One.”

Connecting with Fans, Connecting with the Future
TSG Hoffenheim doesn’t only use technology on the field. It’s also using innovative solutions to get closer to fans and run its business more effectively.

The team relies on SAP Event Ticketing software to manage ticket sales. The Web-based solution allows the club to sell tickets through a booking office, e-commerce Web site, secondary marketing channels, and directly at the stadium. It can also trigger marketing campaigns, inform fans about special offers, and manage season tickets. Integrated campaign monitoring and management allow the club to analyze buying habits and adjust campaigns accordingly.

In the TSG Hoffenheim merchandise store, the SAP Customer Checkout application manages product sales, integrates special offers and frequent-shopper programs, and facilitates sales reporting. Sales staff can register and manage customer profiles directly at the cash register. In real time, sales managers can track which kiosks are selling which items, which cash registers are recording the highest sales, and which items are most popular.

The SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer solution links the team’s online and mobile shops, offering a consistent customer experience across channels. It also manages direct communication with fans. For example, fans receive smartphone messages while they’re at the stadium, inviting them to attend special events such as autograph signings.

“We collect customer data everywhere – for example, when a customer uses the online shop for buying tickets or merchandise,” points out Jan Billenkamp, head of marketing for TSG Hoffenheim. “SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer allows us to do reporting and analysis. Once I have this knowledge, I can provide fans with offers that are actually relevant.”

Getting closer to customers is paying off. “SAP Hybris solutions give us the opportunity to grow,” Billenkamp reports. “We’ve been able to increase sales significantly – in the first year by over 100%.”

“We’re a soccer club. We have some ideas,” concludes Goerlich. “But to transform ideas into innovation isn’t always that simple. That’s something that only a technology partner and a technology-oriented company such as SAP can do for us.”