Putting the Ice Hockey Fan First
The Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) (German Ice Hockey League) is the central organization for all professional German ice hockey clubs playing in the first division. Founded in 1994, the DEL manages all first division games, organizes marketing activities, and promotes young talent. The partnership between the DEL and SAP SE was announced in 2012. SAP’s involvement with ice hockey started with its sponsorship of the regional ice hockey club Adler Mannheim. This is one of the country’s top teams, and plays regularly in the SAP Arena in front of up to 13,000 enthusiastic fans.
The German Ice Hockey League wanted to create an exciting experience for ice hockey fans. A lot of statistical data about recent games was collected during the organization’s history, and is already used internally (to announce a player’s birthday for example). But, how could ice hockey fans benefit from statistical data? To answer this question, the German Ice Hockey League had to get a better idea of who their fans are, to find out what kind of things they expect, and how they best like to follow their favorite sport. Three members of the German Ice Hockey League in Cologne, Germany, participated in a two-day Design Thinking workshop, together with employees of the media partner LAOLA1.tv, from Vienna, Austria, who hosts the website and manages live streams.
Putting the fan first - a Co-Innovation workshop with Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL)
Let Fans Get Involved in the Design Process
Two coaches from the Design & Co-Innovation Center from SAP trained the interdisciplinary team in Design Thinking methods, like user research, ideation, prototyping, and validation. In an open space room at SAP SE, the participants were guided playfully through the creative process.
We were positively surprised by the workshop equipment. The creative atmosphere helped us to gain insights that we would never have had in our normal environment.– Matthias Schumann (Head of Communication, German Ice Hockey League)
According to Jochen Gürtler, SAP Design Strategist at the Design & Co-Innovation Center from SAP, “the great variety of people, such as managers and experts, website technicians, and design experts, guaranteed enormous potential.”
“In addition, from the beginning, real ice hockey fans were involved in the design process”, emphasizes Moritz Gekeler, Design Strategist at the Design & Co-Innovation Center from SAP. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the target groups’ needs and motivations, numerous fans and stakeholders from the German Ice Hockey League, Adler Mannheim, and SAP, were interviewed. In the subsequent synthesis phase, the findings were used to assemble persona descriptions representing fictional ice hockey fans. Based on this fundamental research, ideas about solutions were collected on multicolored Post-Its.
Prototyping of a Cool Tool
One of the surprising findings was that many fans are not dedicated experts, and attend games more to enjoy the family-like atmosphere for example. Therefore, the idea of an intuitive, self-explaining dashboard that displays fun facts, such as the favorite opposing team, was chosen for further ideation. Paper mock-up prototypes were created and tested quickly and inexpensively. In a second workshop, the content to be offered was elaborated. Project lead Milan Cerny from SAP Business Analytics Services summarizes this as follows: ”This project perfectly demonstrates how Design Thinking brings together customers and several parties across SAP in a creative process: While the concept was developed by all, the user requirements were collected jointly by DEL and SAP. From the results, SAP Design Consultant Rainer Matthias developed the visual design including the final navigation flow. The actual implementation and realization was performed by SAP consultants using standard BI tools.”
The public-facing fan dashboard went live in time for the start of the new season. Fans can easily display a subset of the most relevant ice hockey stats at club and player level, such as goals, wins, or penalties. The dashboard also helped to increase communication between fans and the German Ice Hockey League: The content is regularly commented on in the DEL Facebook site, and the dashboard liked as a “Cool tool!”
If you go out and talk to people, you learn a thousand times more than you could ever learn from the best questionnaire.– Jörg von Ameln, Head of Gaming Operations, German Ice Hockey League (DEL)