IBM's Watson is finding its voice at Wimbledon as AELTC looks to balance innovation with tradition

IBM's AL supercomputer Watson will act as a voice activated personal assistant for fans

Pursuing innovation while maintaining tradition can present a difficult balancing act for brands, but it's one which the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) is mastering with the help of IBM's AI technology thanks to new developments which are helping create a far more personalised experience for fans.

The history and traditions surrounding Wimbledon make it one of the biggest sporting events in the world, however the All England Lawn Tennis Club is all too aware that this alone will not be enough to fuel its continuing growth and safeguard its future.

"If we keep Wimbledon the same way as it's always been then it wouldn't be around for much longer. said Alexandra Willis, head of communications, digital and content for the AELTC.

Speaking at The Drum's Future of Marketing event this week, Willis touched on the AELTC's efforts to innovate Wimbledon while maintaining its traditions and revealed how a greater understanding of IBM's supercomputer Watson was helping propel this journey.

IBM introduced Watson to Wimbledon in 2015, helping the digital team at the AELTC analyse conversation online and subsequently create more relevant content across social media platforms. The AI has far more to offer though, and Willis revealed that a greater understanding of the software was now opening up more opportunities for it to strengthen its digital platforms.

"With IBM Watson we're adding the ability to ask questions within our app," said Willis.

The development is part of the AELTC's efforts to deliver a more personal digital experience for fans, helping those less familiar with the event understand its traditions and allowing avid fans easily dive deeper into the stats and nuances of the matches.

Willis said the aim is to "expand the personalisation approach to the extent that they become a true companion and assistant".

This will be tailed to onsite, offsite, how much a person knows about Wimbledon and what country they live in.

Willis continued: "With IBM Watson we're adding the ability to ask questions when you're in the planning your day stage so hopefully we'll have a more cognitive system that will allow people to ask it what else they could do on the day. It should personalise and streamline all of the content rather than having a blanket one size fits all approach."

As the partnership between IBM and Wimbledon grows fans stand to benefit from a development in technology which is allowing the AELTC to maintain its traditions in a sport which is increasingly being influenced by digital.

"We do need to innovate, but those traditions which can our most defining characteristics."

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