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US Open marks IBM extension with new redesigned, AI-driven app and website

USTA has worked with the tech giant for more than 30 years.

19 August 2022 Steve McCaskill
US Open marks IBM extension with new redesigned, AI-driven app and website

US Open

  • IBM and USTA launched USOpen.org in 1995 and official app in 2009
  • New digital platforms are powered by IBM hybrid cloud
  • ‘Explainable AI’ and greater personalisation are the headline features for this year

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) and IBM have extended their long-running technology partnership for another five years, marking the occasion with an overhaul of the official US Open digital platforms ahead of the 2022 tournament.

The two organisations have worked together for more than three decades, with IBM’s innovations used to power internal and fan-facing operations.

IBM launched the official US Open website back in 1995, an app debuted in 2009 and, most recently, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a cornerstone of the USTA’s fan engagement efforts.

“IBM’s expertise and digital leadership has brought our fans closer to the tournament for the past three decades,” said Kirsten Corio, USTA chief commercial officer. “We are excited to continue to leverage IBM’s innovative tech to serve up the tournament in exciting new ways and deepen global fan engagement with the US Open.”

The US Open’s new mobile app and website are built on IBM’s hybrid cloud, an architecture which combines multiple technical infrastructures into a single entity in which workloads can be seamlessly managed.

In a hybrid cloud environment, on-premise equipment and a private cloud provide low latency, as well as a greater degree of control, alongside a public cloud which delivers flexibility, scalability and other capabilities. This infrastructure gives the redesigned digital platforms rapid access to data and application programming interfaces (APIs), which allow different types of software to communicate with each other rather than operate in isolation.

What this means in practice is that the digital platforms are faster, more advanced and more intuitive than previous generations, while offering a far greater degree of personalisation.

The new app also offers different experiences for fans who are watching at home and those are onsite at Flushing Meadows, with the latter directed towards ticket access, mapping and mobile food ordering.

AI is once again a focus this year, building on many of the innovations IBM introduced at Wimbledon. IBM has provided AI-driven insights to its sports partners for several years, using its Watson cognitive computing platform to analyse millions of data points to develops or insights. For example, SlamTracker analyses real time match data to explain patterns or predictions.

Recently, IBM has turned its attention to ‘explainable AI’ that shows which factors have the most influence on these insights. At the 2022 US Open, Watson will analyse more than 100 million sources of data over the course of the tournament to provide a better understanding of what is happening or likely to happen on court and why this is occurring.

A new ‘explainable AI’ metric is ‘win factors’, which takes into account the various elements that affect player performance such as court surface, rankings, head-to-head records, ratio of games won, net of sets won, recent performance, yearly success, and media commentary. Other digital fan features include the IBM Power Index, an AI-informed momentum ranking of all players in the tournament, data-driven match insights and fantasy tennis.

“Our partnership with the USTA provides a unique opportunity to showcase the full breadth of IBM capabilities, against the backdrop of one of the most exciting and iconic sporting events in the world,” added Jonathan Adashek, senior vice president of communications and marketing at IBM.

“As we look ahead, the possibilities to continually expand and enhance the US Open digital fan experience are endless. Together we have created a platform of innovation by activating the same hybrid cloud, AI technology and IBM Consulting services that we use with our clients across all industries to bring the US Open digital properties to life for millions of tennis fans around the world.”

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