Interview: SportBusiness' Ben Speight discusses the power of sport and utilising technology


Ben Speight, Head of SportBusiness Group was grilled on all things sport and SportBusiness in our lastest interview.

SportBusiness Group enables businesses in the sector to work more effectively and profitably by delivering timely, accurate, authoritative and actionable data, insight and analysis through a range of services.

1)    In your opinion, what was the greatest sporting moment of 2013?
While I must confess not to be a close follower of sailing, last year's America's Cup, when Team Oracle USA came back in extraordinary circumstances to beat Emirates Team New Zealand, was a bit special. When we are constantly covering the business of sport across our titles, we can be forgiven for now and again forgetting the actual sport which our business revolves around. That type of result was a reminder of why there is an industry around sport. When in San Francisco weeks after the race, it was great to witness how the event had influenced everyday people in the city - what they call the power of sport.

As an aside - and back to business, as SportBusiness International posed recently, how the race propels itself from being in the global headlines last September to greater things and in particular where it is hosted next time in 2017, will be very interesting.
2)    What would you like to achieve in 2014?
SportBusiness Group is committed to enhancing the effectiveness and profitability of its clients and the people who work for our clients by providing unrivalled data, insight news and commentary. In 2014, we have a number of new services that we are adding to both our newer and more established brands. If through these additions we help our clients do their business better, then we will have achieved a central objective of the group.
3)    How do you feel about the development of sport in emerging markets?
We are big followers of sport in emerging markets. As part of our upcoming 2014 Ultimate Sports City Awards where we celebrate excellence in hosting events, we have named five cities as "Ones to Watch" as we are big believers in sport being moved into new areas of the globe. But equally I must admit developments in the mature markets of the world are equally fascinating as there is perhaps stronger potential for innovation and change from standard and established practices.

4)    What would you say is the most important development made to your products/services?

I am sure that we are not alone as a business but for us it is the opportunities all things digital bring. We are in the middle of a really interesting digital transition with lots of creative ideas which will add significant value to our clients. From our new website launch last year - and more to come in 2014 - to engaging communities through webinars, the digital space is something SportBusiness is seriously engaged with and enthused by. 
5)    If you could change the rules of one sport, what rules would you change?

While there is no rule in particular that really gets my goat - apart from anything that is exacerbating the problems around scrummaging in rugby union, I am a massive advocate of using technology to help officials make decisions based on the rules. If nothing else because this technology, and in some cases the data which comes with it, makes really compelling content for the fan - whether it be the transponders that the IAAF will put in the batons in the inaugural World Relays event or the Hawk-Eye technology which allows you to better understand the flight of a fast ball bowled in cricket. 
6)    How do you feel about your partnership with SportAccord Convention?

SportBusiness has identified SportAccord Convention as one of its key partners for 2014. The very fact that we are beginning our celebrations around the publication of the 200th edition of SportBusiness International magazine at SportAccord Convention 2014 on our stand, and presenting our Ultimate Sport City Awards in the Thursday morning breakfast session, speaks volumes for how we position the Convention in our business. And that's all on top of the webinar series we are working jointly on, to bring compelling content to delegates in the build up to the Convention.