SA Rugby Union to use Azure to engage more with fans SA Rugby Union to use Azure to engage more with fans
SARU aims to digitally transform its business with the help of Microsoft's Azure services. SA Rugby Union to use Azure to engage more with fans

In the not-too-distant future, when you engage with the South African Rugby Union on social media or via its website, that interaction will be powered by Microsoft’s Azure datacentre.

That’s because SA Rugby is using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to transform its business. A business that puts fans at the heart of everything it does.

To do that, the SA Rugby website is in the process of being overhauled, replaced with what is effectively a brand-new “platform”. Said platform will leverage a bunch of awesome cloud technologies to bring rugby fans and the SARU closer together.

Creating value

Says Microsoft in its official press release, “The new site will provide a comprehensive set of digital marketing tools, a holistic view of customer needs, and machine learning-generated insights – all culminating in a growing and aggregated database of fans with whom it can engage seamlessly through a suite of compelling digital tools, enriching their experience of the game and creating commercial value for SA Rugby and its partners.”

The site will incorporate the following Azure services:

  • Azure Infrastructure as a Service
  • WebApps
  • Azure Services Bus
  • Dynamics Customer Relationship Management
  • An ISV solution called Sitecore

Accenture is the chosen partner to help SARU put the site together.

Tech already in sport

At Cloud for Africa on Tuesday, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus spoke about how technology is already impacting on rugby. He told the audience how sensors tell coaching staff things like:

  • Player location
  • How many tackles have been made
  • How much distance each player has covered
  • Player heart rates
  • Which shoulder was used in the last tackle (yes really!)

…all in real time.

That information provides insight into player performance and informs in-the-moment decisions.

The data is stored, analysed, and used to determine strategies for future events. It also identifies areas players could improve on in training.

Local Azure availability is key

The opening of local Azure datacentres in Cape Town and Johannesburg has made it possible for the SARU to leverage Microsoft’s many Azure services to enhance its business in ways it couldn’t do before they went live.

Jurie Roux, Chief Executive Officer of SA Rugby believes, “The partnership with Microsoft will create an opportunity for us to develop innovative solutions to do things that weren’t possible previously.”

Cycling also benefiting

Microsoft has also partnered with Dimension Data and its cycling team, supplying Office 365 for the team’s collaboration and communication needs.

The incredibly mobile team needs a versatile and feature-rich collaboration platform to ensure effective co-ordination.

“As an organisation that races around 280 days in a calendar year on six continents and employs nearly 80 riders and staff scattered around the world, Office 365 is the perfect platform with which to manage our truly global team,”  says Douglas Ryder, Team Principle at Team Dimension Data.

More to come

These are just two sports benefiting from high-tech cloud-based services.

More importantly, additional benefits to a wider range of sports are surely right around the corner as more South Africans get to grips with everything Azure has to offer.

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