The European and especially the French sector of professional sports is not known for its ability to quickly implement technological transformations and innovative solutions. However, by reorganizing their services and redefining new relationships with private and financial players, some sports organizations have been able to focus much more on innovation in recent years, thus spurring their development. Decryption.
“From now on, we can set a goal for ourselves: by 2025, we will see the first company created by French Tech enter the CAC 40. This is a movement that we have already seen in the United States: several large American companies that dominated the world were replaced startups that have emerged as a result of technological innovations. It was in these terms that Cédric Oh, the Secretary of State in charge of Digital, spoke last September to 2,000 entrepreneurs and investors at a gathering hosted by the association France Digitale.
A speech whose timing is not accidental. A few days earlier, one after the other, four start-ups from the tricolor tech ecosystem announced the completion of a fundraiser worth more than 85 million euros. And the most important one concerns… Sorare: NFT football card startup announced the completion of a $680 million operation, valuing this new unicorn at $4.3 billion. An increase in capital, which is not an end in itself, but only a step in the development of the company. Sorare wishes to become a global entertainment leader in the long term, in line with the ambitions set out by its co-founder Nicholas Julia.
Are professional sports lagging behind in terms of innovation?
If the sports tech world is in turmoil with many young shooters managing to raise funds to accelerate their growth; actors in professional sports find it difficult to play a rolefirst followers integrating technological developments into their work at a very early stage. Clubs generally prefer to take a conservative approach – both in sports and in business – so as not to upset their organization.
“Today, flexibility is seen as a key success factor. But in professional sports, organizations are still frozen in their processes! As long as it works, everyone is crossing their fingers that this trend will continue. And we only innovate when the going gets tough. But, conversely, when things are going well, you should think about being one step ahead in your strategy. There are still too few players in the sport who are willing to anticipate events so as not to be exposed to increasingly complex dangers,” analyzes Frank Isaac-Sibill, Vice President of LOU Rugby, responsible for strategic marketing, partnerships and development.
This difficulty in learning about innovative topics stems from the very nature of sports organizations, which are less programmed than a company to evolve to cope with change. However, they are well positioned to create successful models, including knowledge of their communities. “During the first lockdown, companies like Peloton and Zwift saw incredible growth. But why weren’t these decisions launched by the UCI or the organizer of the Tour de France (note: ASO)? These two actors know cycling practitioners and enthusiasts better than anyone else! But traditional sports organizations have not developed this culture of building a business in an effort to provide value-added services to fans. However, it is important to diversify your sources of income,” said Arnaud Dryjard, co-founder and CEO of the Sport Innovation Society, during his speech on the microphone of LaFourmi’s Horizon Sport podcast.
In addition to the DNA historically rooted in associations, other limitations associated with the operation of professional sports, including in particular the very steady pace of event organization and excessive media coverage, significantly slow down the sector’s ability to innovate. “Clubs are always interested in finding new solutions. On the other hand, they sometimes have great difficulty completing the design work and qualifying the submitted designs because they are in too much demand! The biggest French clubs get almost more starting applications than CAC 40 companies! The world of sports, and especially professional football, attracts many. However, even a club like Paris Saint-Germain, which has become one of the biggest franchises in the world of sport, is as big as a small and medium-sized business,” explains Edouard Bouvet, co-founder and CEO of IQollectiv, a fan of the new generation. engagement.