Read our new manifesto

Did you miss the deadline?

There’s still time, request your extension

The Drum

Accenture teams with Golden State Warriors as technology innovation partner on new arena development

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are doing just fine leading the Golden State Warriors to victory on the court. Off the hardwood, Accenture will be tossing assists to push the Warriors to a tech win as the company was named the NBA team’s “technology innovation partner” recently in a multi-year deal.

As founding partner for the Chase Center, Accenture will drive technology and innovation in collaboration with the Warriors to conceive, design and implement a new building development that will comprise the Chase Center and surrounding district. The partnership has already thrown down a slam dunk with its first 360-degree video view of a day in the life of the Golden State Warriors, from a walk into the current Oracle Arena to warm-ups to game time. It’s a video that can also be viewed through VR technology, and a cardboard viewer was made available to fans during a kick-off for the new arena on a game night.

In their run up to the new arena in San Francisco, Accenture and the Warriors will prototype and test solutions at Oracle Arena, so fans will have plenty of opportunities to preview new technology. The new “Fannovate” program has already been launched to invite fans to help define the new experience at the Chase Center, leveraging technology and social media to help mold the new arena.

Accenture will use its broad network of capabilities in the partnership, including service design from Fjord, Accenture Interactive’s design and innovation unit, and mobility and analytics from Accenture Digital. The Accenture Lab in San Jose and Accenture Liquid Studio in Redwood City will also come into play, which will help shape the arena and the surrounding entertainment district.

“San Francisco has never had an indoor multi-use entertainment venue that seats more than eleven-thousand people,” said Chip Bowers, CMO of the Warriors. “We are going to privately finance and build not only an eight-hundred-thousand square foot (plus) arena, but also two office towers, which will equate to a combined five-hundred eighty thousand square feet of office space with an additional one-hundred-twenty-five square feet of retail. In addition, there will be a public plaza that's the size of Rockefeller Center in New York City, along with a park that will sit between the arena, and the district and the bay.”

The construction will begin early 2017 and should be completed by the fall of 2019. What makes the relationship with Accenture important to the team is that they are expanding to be more than just a sports organization.

“We're evolving into an entertainment organization, retail developers, and owners and operators of a multipurpose 365-day a year district, which is new for us, so we're starting to scale as an organization. Not just in terms of the number of staff we have, but also in terms of how we scale our money,” said Bowers.

The new area will cater to sports fans and business people alike, as well as residents. One of those new residents will be rideshare company Uber, which is building its area headquarters next to the Warriors project. Bowers also noted that there are 20 bio-tech companies within the four-block square area, as well as 3,000 new housing units going up in Mission Bay.

The team hopes to be an anchor to the budding community and create engagement past just the sports level.

“There's an opportunity to appease a lot of different individuals and so we want to be appropriately disruptive. We want to create a unique experience, something that engages the senses, something that creates a bit of discovery, but also makes it an efficient experience and a rewarding one for those who come,” said Bowers.

That experience is something Accenture will be uniquely involved in creating. Think push notifications on game days to receive a free cup of coffee at one of the area restaurants, or explaining how to pay for parking, or how to get there by public transportation, how to meet friends at the arena and more.

“We're thrilled to be partnering with the Warriors. We've got such an expansive vision of not just catering to the events, but really catering to how they're going to be a part of that neighborhood and create experiences for everybody in the neighborhood over time. We think it's going to be a lot of fun,” said Mike Sutcliff, group chief executive, Accenture Digital.

An arena from the ground up

Bowers pointed out that the Mission Bay area is one of the last in San Francisco with some open land that hasn’t yet been developed, meaning they can take advantage and build new without having to refurbish older buildings or tear a lot down. They looked to the success of the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the Golden 1 Arena in Sacramento, and other similar types of entertainment venues to see what worked and what didn’t. With the office buildings planned in San Francisco, there will be up to 45,000 people working in the area daily, so there will be activity in and around the arena. The fact that it’s a waterfront space also helps bring interest.

The Warriors currently play in the oldest arena in the NBA, so to create a long-term success and extend the fan experience across the bay, Accenture and the Warriors will have a lot of work to do to keep the community vibrant. Technology will play a huge role in that, especially since the Bay Area is perhaps the most technically savvy in the US.

Still, Sutcliff noted that while technology is a huge part of it, it won’t alienate those who don’t use it.

“We’re designing for the people who don't have access to technology, the people who just don't want to use it, or the times when technology is not appropriate. We think about the experiences we're trying to create and how we create that for the total community that we're trying to serve,” he said. “Our focus is on the experience, but we know the technology well and we partner with all the major technology providers in the different categories of technology that are of interest, and frankly, we'll be asking them for a lot of their best rankings on the current state of technology in each of the major segments we're working on.”

Using VR and AR technology is important to the team and Accenture, and they see the power of that technology growing and appealing to a wider audience.

“I think we gave away 30,000 cardboard virtual reality viewers [during the kick-off] and some of the Warriors, players, were nice enough to use them during the day and talk about them on the video that night during the game,” said Sutcliff.

The team will be working closely with the NBA to develop the technology.

“From an industry perspective, we get pretty giddy when we think about the idea of someone in China through VR, being able to feel like they have their feet on the floor at an NBA game while being a million miles away. That's a great way to engage not only the existing fan base, but create an entirely new fan base,” said Bowers.

Currently, the Warriors and Accenture need to keep the fans at Oracle engaged. Having a great team helps, but they will test constantly to find out how to move forward as the Chase Center becomes a reality.

“We view this as a very long-term relationship with the Warriors organization, so in the first year we're still going to be playing at the Oracle arena so we're going to have an opportunity to test and learn,” said Sutcliff. “We're going to have a chance to listen to the fans and really understand what their desires are, what works for them, what doesn't work. So for us, it's really starting the learning and listening cycle and starting to test some of the things at the current arena to see if we can create an even better experience this year and then we'll take the learnings from that as we move physically over to the new arena and we'll go from there.”

Additional reporting by Doug Zanger