How to be successful in your innovation strategy in sports?


The European – and especially the French – professional sports sector is not famous for its ability to rapidly adopt technological transformations and innovative solutions. However, by reorganizing their services and redefining new relationships with private and financial players, some sporting organizations have been able to give much more room to innovation in recent years, thereby stimulating their development. Decoding.

“From now on, we can set ourselves the goal of seeing, by 2025, the first company originating from French Tech to enter the CAC 40. This is a movement we have already observed in the United States: several large American companies are emerging from technological innovations dominating the world. Cédric O, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Digital, spoke in front of 2,000 entrepreneurs and investors at a meeting organized by the France Digitale association last September.

A speech whose timing is not accidental. A few days ago, one after another, four start-ups from the tricolor technological ecosystem announced that they had completed a fundraiser of over 85 million euros. And most importantly, the concerns… Sorare: The start-up specializing in NFT football cards has announced the completion of a $680 million operation that has made this new unicorn worth $4.3 billion. A capital increase, not an end in itself, but just a step in the company’s development. Sorare aims to become a world leader in entertainment in the long term, according to the goals set by its co-founder Nicolas Julia.

Is professional sports lagging behind in innovation?

If the sports tech world is in turmoil with many young exiles managing to raise funds to boost their growth; actors in professional sports find it difficult to play a roleearly adopters by integrating technological advances into their operations very early on. Clubs often choose to stick to a conservative approach – both in sports and in business – so as not to upset their organizations.

“Today, agility is seen as a key success factor. However, organizations in professional sports are still fossilized in their processes! As long as it works, everyone is pointing out that the trend will continue. And we try to innovate only when challenges arise. But on the contrary, you should consider staying one step ahead in your strategy when all goes well. Few players in the sport are still trying to anticipate developments to avoid exposure to increasingly complex dangers, said Franck Isaac-Sabille, LOU Rugby Vice President of strategic marketing, partnerships and development.

This difficulty in undertaking innovative issues stems from the nature of sports organizations that are less programmed to evolve than a company to deal with change. However, they have all the cards in their hands to build successful models, including information about their community. “During the initial quarantine, companies like Peloton and Zwift experienced phenomenal growth. But why weren’t these solutions initiated by the UCI or the Tour de France organizer (note: ASO)? These two players know practitioners and cycling fans better than anyone! But traditional sports organizations have not fostered this job creation culture by trying to provide additional services to fans. “But it’s important to diversify revenue streams,” Arnaud Drijard, Co-Founder and CEO of the Sport Innovation Society, told the microphone of the LaFourmi agency’s Horizon Sport podcast.

“Organizations in professional sports are still fossilized in their processes! »

Franck Isaac-Sabille – Vice President – ​​LOU Rugby

Beyond a DNA historically rooted in associations, other constraints on the functioning of professional sport – particularly including the constant speed of events to be organized and media overexposure – are significantly slowing the innovation capacity of the industry. “Clubs are always interested in discovering new solutions. On the other hand, sometimes they have great difficulty in projecting work and qualifying submitted projects as they are over-demand! Major French clubs receive almost more startup applications than CAC 40 companies! The world of sports – and especially professional football – attracts a lot. However, even a club like Paris Saint-Germain, which has become one of the biggest franchises in world sport, is a good SME size,” explains Edouard Bouvet, Co-Founder and CEO of IQollectiv, who is a new generation of fans getting engaged.