Are Bayern Munich Ready to Take the Fan Experience to the Next Level?

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2014

Ask any football fan what they want to get from the team they support and the answer is almost certainly going to be success on the pitch and trophies.

But more and more often in the modern age, fans also want to feel they are a part of the club.

It's a tricky balance for clubs themselves to get right, but Bayern Munich's press conference on Tuesday, attended via teleconference, showed that they are looking to continue expanding their commercial partnerships not only to benefit the team but also to improve fan experience.

Bayern have teamed up with SAP, a software and solutions company who will provide the Bundesliga champions with several new technological platforms to improve data collection, to the benefit of every core part of the club.


Club Principles

Jorg Wacker, an executive board member with Bayern, spoke at length about the club's overriding principles of the last two or three decades: Focus on both the sporting success and the business side of the team simultaneously, and to only spend a euro (or a dollar) once it had been earned.

Gero Breloer/Associated Press

In that way, and of course while on-pitch success has been as impressive as it has—Bayern have won nine league titles, eight German Cups and two Champions Leagues since the turn of the century—the club's support base has increased to unprecedented levels.

Wacker counts the current total Bayern supporter number at around 300 million worldwide.

As a club which is owned by its members, this approach to satisfying the fans is not only laudable but necessary.


Dual Potential Platforms

The tie-in with a leading software organisation doesn't just let Bayern extend their ties with supporters, there's also a tangible opportunity to improve team performance.

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

A massive data collection system can be utilised by Bayern in training sessions under the agreement, for example, with real time data being provided to coaches overseeing training. Using digital glasses, for example, coaches will be able to monitor the players themselves through one lens and receive real-time feedback on performance, fitness levels, health monitoring—anything they require.

Not only could it help with improving tactical and technical performance but also with injury prevention and prediction.

A similar platform from the same company, SAP, was used by the German national team en route to winning the World Cup in Brazil over the summer—which the Bayern executive was quick to point out fielded seven players from his team when Mario Gotze, one of the seven, struck the winning goal.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 13:  Mario Goetze of Germany celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthias
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images


Bayern the Best?

It could be argued that Bayern and other member-owned clubs have a duty to provide those supporters with interesting and regular content and news about the club, but not all of them seem to be making the same strides as Bayern are trying to.

"We want to offer content and we can do so, but we need a better connection to the fans and this is what we need the technology platforms for," Wacker said. "In the digital world we are increasingly technologically driven and we need this to give fans unique insights, to learn about them and make the feel special.

"Take Oktoberfest as an example—fans want to see Pep Guardiola in lederhosen! But also player interviews, training videos, everything. Give them that in real time to their mobiles and they love it."

Así disfrutó Pep Guardiola del Oktoberfest.

— Paulaner Beer (@PaulanerMx) October 9, 2013

The new platforms in place are a commercial tie-up, no different from those with adidas or Audi in some respects, but if they can be implemented and taken advantage of in the way intended by both partners, it can contribute to further improvement in both team performance and fan experience.

A win for everybody associated with the club.


*All quotes obtained firsthand