San Francisco 49ers Up Their Game with Big Data, M2M


The sports world is still buzzing over the results of the annual NFL Draft last week. Each year, NFL teams select from a pool of collegiate players, looking for picks that will bring their organization the most prestige and success. Naturally, each organization is looking for something a little bit different. But some groups, like the San Francisco 49ers, may have a leg up on the competition thanks to Big Data and M2M.

The general public may not associate sports with M2M, or technology in general. But sports franchises are starting to see the value of incorporating realtime data analytics into the way they do business both on and off the field.

The 49ers are a prime example. The organization’s partnership with enterprise software company SAP,, is allowing the organization to draft players more effectively and appeal to their fans in a more direct way.

In March, SAP announced the creation of the SAP Scouting solution, an in-memory application which uses the company’s cloud-deployable in-memory data platform called SAP HANA. HANA is a next-generation database which sits entirely on a computer’s RAM (random access memory), as opposed to a disk or a solid state disk. As a result, large amounts of data can be retrieved and consumed in a much quicker fashion. By using HANA, 49ers executives, talent scouts and coaches can enter athlete evaluations, compare prospective players, and see how they measure up to professionals, faster than ever before. The program aims to expedite the process, as well as make it smarter and more simplistic.

In preparation for the draft, the 49ers used the SAP Scouting solution to search for new acquisitions. When the draft was over, the team had 11 new players, and you could say the technology played a role, right there along with good old-fashioned scouting.

Trent Baalke, general manager for the San Francisco 49ers, noted earlier this year the SAP Scouting solution was designed to collect, manage, and view every aspect the scouting department uses to evaluate a prospective player’s current and projected performance level. He added the solution was helping analyze previously unavailable testing and performance data.

SAP is also hoping to give the 49ers new insight into their fan base as they prepare to open a new 68,500-seat stadium next year in Santa Clara, Calif. The stadium will use Big Data and realtime analytics to create a better fan experience.

Digital fan touch points, such as the team’s official Website,, Facebook, and Twitter, will help SAP gather information to integrate new features and applications into the stadium by the time it opens. The 49ers are also using SAP to improve overall customer service.

Bill McDermott, co-CEO of SAP, says his company intends to bring new levels of excitement and intimacy to the 49ers, and make them better than ever.

Time will tell if SAP’s relationship with the 49ers does improve the overall organization. But given the track record M2M technology has in the healthcare, automotive, retail, and various other industries it touches, the odds are definitely in favor of a win.

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