If you were to choose a company to embrace Microsoft's mobile and cloud first strategy, you could do worse than picking the PGA Tour. The organization, which supports 100 tournaments a year, is building Windows 10 mobile applications that track player scores and analyze the trek of the ball, data that is eventually essential in scoreboards, television broadcasts and websites. It’s also using Microsoft Azure public cloud and the Office 365 productivity suite.
PGA Tour CIO Steve Evans has bought into Microsoft’s “universal Windows platform” strategy, in which developers, using a single API set, can write an application that will run across Windows PCs, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles.
“If we can capture a large number of eyeballs on the desktop and a gaming console, that’s attractive to us,” Evans says. “To invest once to get to both platforms is nice because app development is not an inexpensive endeavor to get into when you’re trying to maintain applications across platforms.”
Why mobile, cloud are par for the course
As is typical with CIOs who prefer to keep their vendor list lean, Evans has essentially bet on one partner over the course of a three-year partnership inked last fall. It's the type of partnership that Microsoft relishes because it relies almost entirely on mobile and cloud technology – two of the main strategic tentpoles in the company’s resurgence under CEO Satya Nadella.
The Walking Scorer app lets golf tournament volunteers track and manage player and course information.
The PGA Tour counts on more than 300 volunteers to walk the fairways and track players' scores, as well as ball flights and paths. They enter data using either Microsoft Lumia 950 phones and Surface Pro 4 tablets equipped with custom Windows 10 apps.
The Walking Scorer app lets volunteers track and manage player and course information, including scores. Laser Operator allows volunteers to collect data from laser sensors on the greens, including distance of approach shots and putts, as well as driving distances. A companion app to Laser Operator, Grid View lets volunteers manually enter into Surface Pro 4 tablets ball position when the laser operator has an obstructed view, replacing the clipboard they used to track shots.
The Laser Operator app lets golf tournament volunteers collect data from laser sensors on the greens. A companion app to Laser Operator, Grid View (shown here) lets volunteers manually enter into Surface Pro 4 tablets ball position when the laser operator has an obstructed view.
PGA Tour is also extending its mobile innovations to fans. Tournament Companion allows event attendees to use Surface Pro 4 tablets to track tournament player location via a heat map, see a bird’s eye view of the course as well as statistical game analysis and player leader boards. Eventually, the organization plans to offer a consumer-version of the app for fans who aren’t attending tournaments to download from the Windows application store to their PCs, and eventually, the Xbox.
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