Want to learn more about digitalization and innovation in sports?
Meet Hisham Shehabi, founder of N3XT Sports, former Olympic swimmer and one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming CHAMP conference.
Hisham Shehabi grew up in Bahrain where he also earned the opportunity to swim and represent his country in the Olympic Games 2004 in Athens. His Olympics debut was followed by international business administration and marketing studies in Finland. While working in investment banking and public policy reform, he realised he spent most of his free time volunteering and organizing local running, triathlon and cycling events. This led him to a career in sports administration, first as the Marketing Manager of the Bahrain Olympic Committee, then as the Sports Intelligence Manager at the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2018, he moved to Washington DC and co-founded N3XT Sports, a strategy and implementation agency focusing on digital, data and innovation in the sports industry.
Never let a good crisis go to waste – what can the sport movement and sport clubs learn from the Covid-19 pandemic (closures, crisis)? What do you think are the most important lessons for the sport movement?
There are many lessons for the sport movement. One that permeates all levels of the industry is the proliferation of digital technologies and innovative tools. These are being developed by new types of actors and brought to the sports industry, and organizations must learn to adopt these and be fluent in the languages of today, which young participants of Generation Alpha and Gen Z are born with. At the same time, it cannot all be about digital and tech, because the core is about sports, health, lifestyle and fitness. One of the core missions of sports is its ability to strengthen communities and bring them together, and the stronger the organizations are, the more able they are to deliver on their core mission. Digital and tech is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.
In your opinion, what digital trends could non-profit sports clubs adopt/benefit from? and how could this support them in their day to day activities?
One of the trends that is exciting right now is the single-fan-view trend. There is now a lot of technological solutions that are easily available from the market, that can be integrated with little to no-coding development. These help sports clubs to have full profiles of their members and be able to offer them tailored content on their platforms but also personalized journeys. Imagine you have a customer database (commonly referred to as CRM – customer relationship management) that collects people’s entries into the CRM and populates it continuously. A local resident who arrives every Thursday at the club, and stays 2 hours, can be alerted on Monday or Tuesday about what is happening on Thursday that week in terms of new classes, or can be offered the same class they attend on a different day because there are more spots available then. These personalized, data-driven customer profiles are now at the reach of even the smallest sports clubs. Importantly, having the technology is one thing, you need to also have the right people handling it and the right processes in place to ensure its success.
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