Microsoft Cloud Authors: Jim Kaskade, Lori MacVittie, Andreas Grabner, Janakiram MSV, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @BigDataExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@BigDataExpo: Article

Big Data Analysis Drives NASCAR Success

NASCAR attains intimacy and affinity with fans worldwide using big data analytics

Auto racing powerhouse NASCAR has engineered a way to learn more about its many fans -- and their likes and dislikes -- using big-data analysis. The result is they can rapidly adjust services and responses to keep connected best to those fans across all media and social networks.

It's a story of getting at all the information and data that's generated constantly from social media, news media, broadcast media -- and then making the analysis instantly available as easy-to consume and relate visualizations.

BriefingsDirect had an opportunity to learn first-hand how NASCAR newly engages with its audiences using big data and the latest analysis platforms when we interviewed Steve Worling, Senior Director of IT at NASCAR, based in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the recent HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Tell us about the context of what you're trying to do with your fan base, and then how technology comes to bear on that.

Worling: NASCAR has been around for 65 years, and we have probably one of the most loyal fan bases out there. NASCAR really wants to understand what our fan base is saying about our sport. How do we engage with them, how are we really bringing our sport to their entertainment, and what's the value of that?


So NASCAR partnered with HP to build a first-of-its kind of Fan and Media Engagement Center. That’s a new platform for us that allow us to listen to the social media outlets -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all of those social media outlets -- to understand what the fans are talking about.

Something unique about this platform is that it also allows us to bring in the traditional media news sites. What is the media saying about our sport, and then how do you tie those conversations together to get a really nice single pane of glass on the overall conversation? What are our fans are saying, what are the news media saying, and how does that help and benefit our industry as a whole?

Gardner: It sounds like you don’t want get some of the data -- but all of the data.

Want to know everything

Worling: We absolutely want to know everything that’s being said across all of those platforms. We saw about 18 million impressions in our first year of the platform. That’s impressions across the social side and the news-media side. It was big, and this was our first year at it.

On the news media side, we're only collecting from a small sample right now. Next year, we're going to really enhance that and grow that from a few different news sites to hundreds of sites, as well as start to bring a more of awareness to our fans around social interaction.

So we're expecting to see that number grow significantly. This year, as I said, a solid 18 million tweets overall translates to about 110,000 tweets during a race day, even up to about 15,000 tweets per minute.

NASCAR is a predominantly US-based sport, but we are growing internationally. Today, we have a series in Mexico. We have a series in Canada as well, and we just expanded into Europe with our Whelen Euro Series.

This platform will also help us engage and understand how the sport is performing in those markets. What's the sentiment of the fans? It's really a great platform to allow us to right anything that we might be doing wrong. So if we need to enhance the marketing or enhance the engagement of those tracks, we're able to do that through this platform.

If we need to enhance the marketing or enhance the engagement of those tracks, we're able to do that through this platform.

Our sport is unique, because there is a vast community that makes up our sport. You have a NASCAR governing body and that's what I represent. Then, there is a large race track ownership. We call those promoters, and those are the folks who are selling tickets and getting you out to the race track.

Then, we have our teams and our drivers, and those are independent contractors. So you have those that are involved in the sport, and then our sponsors and our partners that help bring all of that together and make this ecosystem. That is NASCAR.

We're able to collect data on all of those different constituents, and then share that value. I’ll give you a great example. This year, HP became a great partner with us around our Fan and Media Engagement Center.

Share the value

Our goal over the next couple years, as we work with HP, is to be able to sit down with them and share the value and what their sponsorship and their partnership brings to NASCAR. We want to develop and grow the relationship for a longer period of term. We give them real data on their activation and involvement in the NASCAR industry.

Gardner: We now know that customer information is being shared in whole new ways. How do you then take the technology and get a handle on it so that you can perform what you want?

Worling: We partner with HP, as I said, to build this platform. We’re leveraging products like their IDOL engine. The Explore capability from their Autonomy platform allows us to ingest all of this different data, put it together, and then really start building that single pane of glass to understand what these conversations are -- whether there is a breaking story around activation within our sport, or something else.

As it's collecting this data, the platform starts to stitch it together so that we can understand what the conversation is. So it’s taking that news outlet information, taking the social sentiment, and putting it together to make sense of it. It’s taking all of that unstructured data, structuring it, and then giving us the analytics that allow us to understand the conversation -- and react appropriately.

One of the new things that I'm excited about is in telling our story is that we've got a great command center.

It could be a story that makes sense and is telling the right story, or it could be a story that needs a little bit of direction from NASCAR to make sure that we're getting the right story out there.

So HP building that with Autonomy has been very valuable. We're getting ready to deploy HP Vertica on top of that now to allow us to take this large amount of data we’re getting and putting it into the Vertica data infrastructure. Then we can start making even more connection points and more rationalization, and then being able to layer other tools on top of it -- things like Tableau Software -- to help us with visualization.

One of the new things that I'm excited about is in telling our story about our great command center. It’s a showcase piece that you can come and see what we’re actually reporting on the analytics. We’re going to build a map of the U.S. that allows us to give us the hotspots of information.

So as people are tweeting, maybe good or bad, in California, you might get a big red spot. We can drive down into that, understand what that data is, and then engage through our dot-com platforms and other media outlets to make sure that we're saying the right story or addressing the concerns that are out there.

Gardner: I saw on the stage at HP Discover in Barcelona that Facebook put up a very impressive map that was built using Vertica. It shows their actual installed base and the connections between them. Of course, it looks very much like a map of the world, but it's a map of Facebook.

Amazing visualization

Worling: That was an amazing visualization, and I can't wait to be able to do the same thing. I thought that was a really neat and I’d love to be able to get the resolution of the world like they have, but I will be happy to get a great, rich US look. That was totally a cool thing, and I hope that we can do the same thing as well.

Gardner: So one of the great things about what you have been doing is getting all the data. One of the bad things you've been doing is getting all the data. How do you move beyond this being a fire hose and make it actionable?

Worling: As I mentioned, we’re storing everything in IDOL today. We'll be migrating to Vertica shortly to help us with the consumption. For us, this year, it's been a little bit of we just didn’t know what we didn’t know. We weren't really sure what kind of data we were going to see and how we were going to react to it. Our sport is a great sport, but like any sport or any business, there's always a little controversy with it, and we experienced some of that this year. So it was more of a great platform to help us do crisis management.

As we dealt with the situations that came up, we were able to get data from this and react to it appropriately. But we've also started to learn some proactive things to think about.

With Vertica and IDOL, we’re positioning ourselves or have the right platform that allow us to grow extensively as we look to the future.

As we launch a new car this year, our Gen-6 Car, what is the engagement or sentiment from our fans? We’ve been able to do some deep analytic research on what that is and get valuable information to be able to hand GM, who launched this car with us this year and say, “This is the results of the news" instantly -- a lot of big data.

As I said, we have 18 million impressions this year, which was phenomenal, and I don’t think we had a bar to set. Now, we’ve have set the bar for next year and I think with Vertica and IDOL [part of HP HAVEn], we’re positioning ourselves or have the right platform that allow us to grow extensively as we look to the future.

Gardner: Once you start getting big-data capabilities and driving more data into it, you get hungry for more data. You’ll start thinking about places to acquire it, doing joins, and then finding even better analysis. Any thoughts as to where you might go next, now that you’ve tapped the social-media environment?

Worling: There are two ways to answer that. One, we’re going to continue to grow the social media side. I mentioned the things that we’re doing today with Facebook and Twitter. Instagram really is the next big piece of integration for us.

For NASCAR, it’s important for us to engage younger people in that Gen Y, Millennial Generations. Instagram is a key component to do that. So that’s going to be a big focus for us in getting that integrated and then just keeping an eye out for the new social solutions or offerings that are coming out and how we keep them integrated.

Traditional media

Then, we’re going to start working on the traditional news media as well. As I mentioned, it’s going to be key for us to understand the press impacts. That’s very relevant for our CEO and Chairman. I didn’t mention, but we’ll also be bringing in video from our broadcast partners. We broadcast nationally in the US, as well as in 198 countries worldwide. That story is very important to us.

We’ll be growing a lot of that next year. The second side of that is our business becomes more aware of this tool. We’ve been getting just inundated with requests, some from the sales guys, as they’re trying to develop new sales, how we should value what it means to be part of our sport. There are renewals in the sales process as well, the value of the partners that are already existing and then taking it to our drivers.

A great story I love to tell is about a young and upcoming driver that started in our Camping World Truck Series. This year has to build his brand. He has a brand that he needs to develop and get out there.

The things that we’re doing today with Facebook and Twitter. Instagram really is the next big piece of integration for us.

We brought him into the Fan and Engagement Center and spent about three or four hours taking him through different analytics, different use cases of information around his brand, and helped him understand what it meant to be good. We showed him the things he needs to develop, and the things that he wasn’t so good at, so he could take that away and work better on those. We’re definitely seeing a lot of requests from the industry: How does this platform benefit them and how do they get rich data out of it?

You may also be interested in:

More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

@ThingsExpo Stories
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Coalfire will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Coalfire is the trusted leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services. Coalfire integrates advisory and technical assessments and recommendations to the corporate directors, executives, boards, and IT organizations for global brands and organizations in the technology, cloud, health...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...