The 2024 Sports Technology Awards Shortlist announcement achieves two things. It makes over 100 brands across the industry very, very happy and for those of us fortunate enough to see all the entries, it is an unrivalled insight into what is happening in the world of tech-led innovation.
This year’s shortlist isn’t just a list; it’s a declaration that the relationship between technology and sports isn’t some passing fad; the sectors are now indelibly linked in a relationship that is set to expand even further.
But where are the big changes? Unsurprisingly AI is calling a lot of shots, however sliding into significantly more submissions are the techs which blur the lines between reality and the virtual world. MR, AR and VR are becoming game-changers. See also blockchain.
Meanwhile, we need to talk about apps. They are still icons on billions of phones but they are changing. All things point to an evolution to wider digital platforms and the broader range of services they provide.
And the changes don’t stop there. The big guns, such as Google, Apple and Sony, who tested the sports’ water a few years back, may not have achieved omnipresence, but they are certainly heading that way.
But don’t think they have seen off competition in all its forms – far from it. Our valiant startups boast a great track record in the David vs Goliath rematches we see at The Awards each year. It is remarkable to see how they unearth new markets and push the boundaries of what’s possible.
The old tech adoption adage goes that ‘if you aren’t riding the steamroller, you end up as part of the road’ and make no mistake, there are industry-wide implications from what we have seen from this year’s entries. This sector has become a sophisticated one faster than Usain Bolt on roller skates – and that means two things
- Organizations and companies which use tech and wish to keep pace, will need to employ people who properly understand the different technologies on offer – this space is getting very complex and isn’t for the uninformed
- In order to sell their wares, tech businesses need to remember they aren’t dealing with fellow ‘lab coats’. Remember, sell benefits, not features. Demystify what you do. Don’t use jargon or pat phrases that sound great and say nothing. Get the end user onside by helping them understand and embrace the opportunities you present
To this end we have to finish with a shout out to the judges who navigated their way round the submissions with enviable authority. Don’t think for a second that these decisions are made by a bunch of suits in a boardroom. Ours is a heavy hitting panel of technologists, business brains and sporting legends (including Sir Steve Redgrave, Nasser Hussein, Stef Reid and Adam Lallana – oh yes) who make sure only the best of the best make the cut.
Take a few minutes to enjoy the success of those who made the shortlist before the serious stuff happens in a few weeks’ time. We’ll roll out the red carpet and pop the champagne because come Thursday May 9th, we’re throwing the sports tech party of the year. It’s where industry titans, innovators, and die-hard fans come together to celebrate the pioneers shaping the future of sports.