John Pollard Joins STATS To Lead New Sports Solutions Group
There is some bridge building going on at STATS. The company, a leader in providing sports technology, information, and content, has created a Sports Solutions Group and hired a technology veteran to run it. John Pollard, who comes to STATS from a technology role at Microsoft, will serve as general manager of the new entity, which is designed to deliver specialized front-office, coaching, and scouting-personnel solutions across multiple sports, both professional and collegiate. Rather than turn the entire company on its head, Pollard expects to use the bridges the company has already built and construct new, more efficient ones alongside them.
“The good news is the infrastructure, personnel, competency, experience, and data are all in place,” Pollard explains. “The appropriate term is evolution. We’re trying to enhance the current business model by using new technologies and innovation to add new value to existing clients. We’re building a new technical foundation that will allow us a better platform for innovation and new services. We still have one bridge to use, and right next to that we’re building another bridge. In this case, we’re not replacing the first bridge; we’re just augmenting and evolving.”
At Microsoft, Pollard focused on fan-experience products, through brands like Xbox. He quickly learned that sports players and executives are short on the software and internal tools necessary to expedite the process of accessing information and analytics and being able to study film.
“I learned that each team has a varying level of technical competency, and we have an opportunity to add more value to our clients, leverage information that we’ve been capturing, and create new offerings,” Pollard explains. “We think that using software, mobile, and Web technologies is an opportunity for us to move forward. It’s not only facilitating continuity among the current client base but creating a deeper value-added partner relationship with the clients as well.”
Primarily, the Sports Solutions Group will work with STATS’ SportVU player-tracking technology and X-Info data. In a non-intrusive manner, SportVU collects real-time motion and positioning data for every player on the field, as well as the ball, using computer-vision cameras. X-Info provides teams with innovative data, such as burned defenders and yards after catch for football or pitch type, velocity, and location information for baseball. By tying X-Info and SportVU tracking data together with video, STATS hopes to take coaching and player evaluation to a new level.
Currently, the biggest challenge for STATS is differentiation.
“There are a lot of companies in the space of sports information, video management, coaching tools, and scouting tools,” Pollard says. “The biggest challenge for us is to describe our differentiation and where we play amongst all of the companies working in this space. We’re not looking to replace any infrastructure that teams and leagues currently enjoy using; we’re looking for new ways to push our information to the end user. The biggest challenge for us is to carve out our own value proposition.”
Pollard will look to expand on that value proposition as he gets his feet wet in his new role at STATS.