Seattle Mariners hit digital transformation home run

Digital transformation is a common strategic priority. Yet, all too often, underestimated complexity hampers C-suites and diminishes program potential.

Recently, the fintech company Broadridge discovered that if more than 70% of interrogates executives cite customer interaction, marketing success and operational gains as key digital transformation goals, progress remains disappointing. Less than 25% achieved the expected improvement in revenue growth, profit and decision speed.

Kari Escobedo, senior vice president of information technology for the Seattle Mariners, is taking on this challenge. Now halfway through his second season with the team, Escobedo is spearheading a digital transformation that has other Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, sports leagues and entertainment venues talking about it. whole world.

In addition to significant technology investments to improve the fan experience, drive employee engagement and strengthen team competitiveness, the Mariners have also prioritized leadership development, cross-functional collaboration and external partnerships. . This integrated plan quickly delivers results — on and off the field.

New ball game

T-Mobile Park hosts Mariners 81 regular season baseball games, as well as more than 300 corporate events and concerts each year. Upon hiring, Escobedo’s team was tasked with deploying technology to improve fan experience and engagement.

The redesign brought many changes and improvements. “First, we’ve upgraded Wifi 6 and 5G capabilities so our technology infrastructure can enhance the fan experience through our mobile app, our website’s streaming capabilities, and unique fan activations in the stadium”, underlined Escobedo.

These upgrades speed up fan arrival, security screening and on-site transactions.

“We went paperless and cashless last year. While many places did it out of necessity, we planned for it. contactless and state-of-the-art security. On our app, we have added many activation features to help fans understand how to best enter and navigate the ballpark, she noted.

Good taste

Shorter wait times speed visitors to the stadium’s many attractive dining options. Epicurean review site Thrillist assessed T-Mobile Park is baseball’s best stadium for food and drink, calling it “the benchmark that all other organizations strive to achieve through unbridled creativity and doubling down on homegrown strengths.” “.

Menu options include Cascadian-area craft beers like Bale Breaker and Reuben’s Brews and Pacific Northwest favorites, Ivar’s seafood and Salt & Straw ice cream.

T-Mobile Park’s Cashierless Market is also New this season. It is powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out and Amazon One technologies. Fans can use cards or the Amazon One palm scanner to authenticate payments and avoid queues.

Mariners Vice President of Fan Experience Malcolm Rogel enthused, “Our fans love how this innovation has improved their experience while playing our games. We’ve received so much feedback about how quickly they return to the game after visiting the Walk-Off Market.

Triple play

The Mariners’ digital transformation offers CIOs and other business leaders three key, important, and generalizable lessons.

First, Escobedo attributes the success of digital transformation to management’s willingness to learn, change and invest. She cited outstanding leadership candor and cooperation in recognizing that technology implementations depend on organizational support. “We wanted to leverage technology as a differentiator to drive the business forward. My colleagues and I work together to find technology solutions that truly align with our business process goals, not the other way around. »

“In addition to better serving our fans, we are upgrading HR, finance, business intelligence, and sales and marketing applications. To do this, we are committed to being a learning organization that embraces a mindset of growth, innovative change and continuous improvement in our jobs. This required strong change management skills in addition to a good sense of technology investments, she explained.

Second, innovation needs close strategic partners to accelerate the journey. Escobedo emphasized that effective technology adoption requires flexibility. The Mariners have implemented more agile design, deployment, and feedback processes to find the workflows that best serve fans, employees, and partners. Such data-driven collaborative experimentation accelerates meaningful change and ensures lasting results.

Third, Escobedo specifically highlighted the criticality and value of reliable scalable platforms and reliable data pools. She brought significant cross-industry experience at Bartell Drugs, Kaiser Permanente, T-Mobile, Starbucks and Microsoft to her new job. This background helps Escobedo find and use specific data analytics best practices that facilitate adoption of new platforms and leverage data assets to bring more accurate decision insights and faster action to the company.

“They allow a much faster time for insight and decisions. For the business organization in terms of sales, ticketing and marketing partnerships, as well as for our baseball team’s player selection, play decisions and health needs. Our platform has to support everything,” she explained. These investments are clearly useful.

“The massive use of data shows how much our fans are turning to devices during matches to stream replays, overlay game stats and engage with our stadium features such as big screen contests,” said she detailed. “We are now looking to use the insights from this data to help make T-Mobile Park more efficient for our fans, create memorable experiences, and continue to be a place where our fans can come game after game, year after year and love what that we are. do for them.

Escobedo also sees a bright and exciting future, noting by baseball analogy, “We’re probably four innings into a nine inning game of modernizing data platforms that will fully support the success of our baseball organization and operations. commercial.”

Shining star

The 2023 MLB All-Star Game will take place at T-Mobile Park next July. The baseball world will experience first hand how the Seattle Mariners set the mark to modernize a day at the old ballgame. Who’s next ?

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