Infor sponsoirs the Brooklyn Nets and brings red to the shirt (image Source: Brooklyn Nets)
Infor sponsoirs the Brooklyn Nets and brings red to the shirt

Infor has announced a new multimillion dollar partnership with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) and Brooklyn Nets. The announcement is light on details. It will include Infor complementing BSE in four areas: team performance, fan experience, team business operations, and jersey patch sponsorship. The terms of the agreement were not announced. Citing an anonymous source Bloomberg Technology revealed Infor would pay $8 million annually over the three year pilot term laid down by the NBA.

Sports analytics

Sports analytics is nothing new to Infor. It already works with the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team. The company also works with the Christchurch Crusaders, one of the most successful teams in New Zealand rugby. If the Nets can achieve the same success the Crusaders have enjoyed then everyone should be pleased.

Speaking on CNBC Brett Yomark, president of BSE commented: “We are thrilled for the partnership with Infor. The NBA has afforded teams throughout the league to sell a very appropriate patch on the jersey stating next season. We looked to identify not only a great strategic partner but one that would help us both on and off the court

“We had an existing relationship with Infor this was an opportunity to amplify that to tap into their data analytics and their software. We are really excited by it.”

That amplification will include Infor creating a digital hub to help improve on court performance. Infor will capture data points from players. Its data science team will then analyse and provide actionable insights from that data. Infor’s data scientists are base at the company’s Dynamic Science Labs located near MIT. The hub will also be developed by the in house design team H&L Digital, based in New York. They are building an intuitive user interface for Nets staff including Nets General Manager Sean Marks.

The data collected should helped to improve performance and in particularly reduce injuries. Data analytics is already changing the sport, something that Jeremy Lin has spoken about on CNBC. In real time coaches now pull players off the court when they have reached a certain load. Five years ago, he commented, that would have been unthinkable as the longer the best players stayed on court the better was the mantra.

Marks commented “This collaboration will provide efficient and strategic solutions in real time for Nets Basketball Operations,” said Marks. “The new digital platform that Infor is building will improve the way in which we work, communicate and make decisions across the organization both on and off the court.”

Black and white, Nets fans see red.

This deal has incenses some of the Brooklyn Nets fans. It’s not because Infor can help their team on court, they need that! They lost to the Wizards Wednesday night in overtime 114-110 for an eleventh straight loss. It is because the Infor logo is red and clashes with the traditional black and white of the Nets jerseys.

A similar deal by GE at the Celtics saw them change the colour of their logo to green. It will be interesting to see whether Infor relents and changes its colour. The logo is a better fit with one of Infor’s other sponsorships, Ferrari. The Ferrari Formula 1 team has always been associated with the colour red. The website SB Nation cites several fans abhorred by the choice of logo colour and also slams the NBA for allowing any patches in the first place.

Basketball is a business though and the benefits that Infor will bring should outweigh the dissent. Infor is also a local company, headquartered in New York. If Infor do change the colour of their logo for the jersey it will probably be because of internal fan pressure. Keeping the red logo will give Infor significant air time for the 2017/18 season. If the Nets start winning due to the analytics and insights that Infor deliver then the fans may come to respect the partnership.

Conclusion

Stephan Scholl President Infor (source Infor)
Stephan Scholl President Infor

This is a good deal for Infor that can only get better if the Nets return to winning ways next season. It is a local partnership despite Infor being a global company. Similar rumblings of discontent were heard about sponsorships on soccer shirts in the UK when they were first announced. What is noticeable is that the discontent is aimed at the logo and the NBA rather than the company. It is easy to say Infor should consider that colour change. However with the benefits of it as well as the healing effect of  time and winning streaks, they probably shouldn’t. Perhaps they should commit to changing it if performances don’t improve.

Stephan Scholl, president of Infor commented: “The disruptive impact of digital has been felt across entire industry sectors, from retail to healthcare to government and manufacturing, and now Infor will take the same approach that’s been successful at organizations like Ferrari, Triumph Motorcycles, and Whole Foods Market, and apply it to the Brooklyn Nets. What makes the partnership even more special is the bond we feel with the Nets from a cultural perspective-Infor shares the Nets’ gritty, entrepreneurial spirit, and like the Nets we moved into our New York headquarters in 2012.”

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