NASCAR Attains Further Intimacy and Affinity with Fans Worldwide using HP HAVEn Big Data Analysis
NASCAR Attains Further Intimacy and Afﬁnity with Fans
Worldwide using HP HAVEn Big Data Analysis
Transcript of a sponsored BrieﬁngsDirect podcast on how NASCAR is using big data and
analytics to learn from and engage with their vast fan base.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Sponsor: HP
Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the HP Discover Podcast Series. I’m
Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this
ongoing sponsored discussion on IT innovation and how it’s making an impact on people’s lives.
Once again, we’re focusing on how companies are adapting to the new style of IT to improve IT
performance and deliver better user experiences, and business results. This time, we’re coming to
you directly from the HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona.
We’re here the week of December 9 to learn directly from IT and business
leaders alike how big data, mobile, and cloud, along with converged
infrastructure are all supporting their goals.
Our next innovation case study highlights how NASCAR is learning more about
its many fans and is better able to tailor its services and keep connected to that
fan base using big-data analysis. To learn more about what they're doing and how they're doing it
please join me in welcoming our guest Steve Worling, Senior Director of IT at NASCAR, based
in Daytona Beach Florida. Welcome, Steve.
Steve Worling: Thank you, Dana. I appreciate the invite and I’m glad to be here today to really
tell our story about what we're doing with big data.
Gardner: Let's start with the big picture. NASCAR has been around for a while. In your
business, like many, connection to your customers has always been desired, but
nowadays we seem to be able to do that in ways that weren't there before. That can
be good thing or that can be a bad thing. Tell us about the context of what you're
trying to do with your fan base and then how technology may have come to bear
Worling: Absolutely. 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
Something that is 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: What's the scale here. Obviously, you've talked about using any social media you can
get. It sounds like you don’t want get some of the data, but all of the data. How big is that?
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
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
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, up to about 15,000 tweets per minute.
Gardner: Just to be clear, this is a global audience, and I believe you're trying to
connect and expand into more areas of the globe.
Worling: 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.
Gardner: I've talked to so many companies that thought they knew their customers, but didn’t.
When the data was available to them, they learned things. But then, even more so, when you
have a cultural divide, you couldn't even anticipate there was an unknown unknown element to
it. So the data is the only way to really get inferences when you start to go so wide and deep.
Worling: 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 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
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, 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: No guesswork is good work. Tell us how you faced this issue of how to do this best.
We know how important it is to our business. We 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. Their Explore 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,
maybe the military.
As it's collecting this data, it starts to stitch it together so that we can understand what the
conversation is. So it’s taking that news outlet, 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.
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
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 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 to
help us with visualization.
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’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
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: As a quick aside, we just saw on the stage today here 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
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? You have Tableau and visualization, but is there anything more?
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.
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 got 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,
we’re positioning ourselves or have the right platform that allow us to grow extensively as we
look to the future.
Gardner: I’ve heard from other folks, Steve, that it’s a slippery slope. 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.
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 as well. 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.
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?
Gardner: Well, it really seems like a really powerful capability that you’ve only begun to
scratch the surface on. I wish you well with that.
Worling: Thank you.
Gardner: Well, we have been learning about how NASCAR has been getting into big data and
using several HP technologies, including Autonomy IDOL Engine and, increasingly, Vertica and
then visualizing these ﬁndings to better improve how it relates to its vast fan base.
With that, please join me in thanking our guest, Steve Worling, Senior Director of IT at
NASCAR. Thanks so much, Steve.
Worling: Thank you.
Gardner: And thank you also to our audience for joining us for this special new style of IT
discussion coming to you directly from the HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona.
I’m Dana Gardner; Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of
HP sponsored discussions. Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes.Sponsor: HP
Transcript of a sponsored BrieﬁngsDirect podcast on how NASCAR is using big data and
analytics to learn from and engage with their vast fan base. Copyright Interarbor Solutions,
LLC, 2005-2014. All rights reserved.
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