|Igor Ulis - Co-Founder and CEO, Omnigon|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 21 March 2014 11:39
Igor Ulis is the Co-Founder and CEO of Omnigon Communications, the US-based firm who create digital strategies for the likes of Madison Square Garden, NASCAR and the PGA Tour to name a few. Having made a name for themselves in the States, Igor and his team are expanding into Europe, with the aim of replicating their success Stateside in new territories.
Igor took the time to talk to iSportconnect about their new ventures, why he loves the NASCAR app and what Omnigon can offer potential clients.
Can you tell me about Omnigon and what your company does in the sports industry?
Omnigon is a consultancy; we develop strategic business solutions for companies that are in the sports media and entertainment industries. We work with sports leagues, teams, venues and companies that purchase content rights. We get involved in either the implementation of systems across the entire enterprise or we get involved as strategic partner for a very specific engagement.
You are one of the Co-Founders of Omnigon. How did you create Omnigon?
I’ve been in the professional services industry my entire professional career and prior to Omnigon I was focused on the government healthcare as non-profit developing technical solutions for those industries. I had left the company that I previously founded. The new group of people we had came together and we focused our energy on the sports market and it grew from there.
Can you tell us about some of your biggest partners like NASCAR and some of the specifics of what you do for them?
The two largest engagements that we have are with NASCAR and the PGA Tour, two prominent and large sports leagues here in the US. We had originally got involved with them a couple of years ago when they were going through a bit of a transition. Both leagues had decided to bring their digital rights in house. At the time digital rights were owned by a company called Turner. As part of the ownership of the digital rights they ran the digital properties for both leagues which meant nascar.com, pgatour.com and all the mobile and social apps. When both leagues decided that they were no longer going to outsource the digital rights they needed a strategy of how they were going to do that. The leagues hadn’t got IT infrastructure, project management infrastructure or the personnel to be able to take on the operation fully. We had about a year to work with them to figure out how to build the organisation for them to run their digital properties.
Are these two the strategies you are most proud to have worked on, or are there others which stick out in your mind?
Prior to those we spent a few years working on the Madison Square Garden Company. There is a little over 20 sites that they run including the New York Rangers. That was good for us in terms of visibility and kinds of products that we were able to launch. We do work with FOX broadcasting and there are a number of very interesting products that we launched with them, specifically in the area of social media, data visualisation and sports data visualisation. Obviously second streaming strength is a big topic for broadcasters and for a number of products that we have launched with FOX Sports that are specially geared towards the second stream market was pretty revolutionary at the time.
You have a variety of sports like soccer and basketball, are there different challenges with different sports?
Every sport is unique and therefore brings a unique set of challenges. NASCAR races are always very tense and they last for three to four hours a week. There are a lot of people insuring that everything goes well for the race. Whereas if you look at golf that’s an event that is spread over four days usually and people spend anywhere between 40 and 50 hours focusing on insuring all the systems are up and running and that the experience is optimal. The nature of the sports is different and you need to ensure that the experience is the best that it can be for the duration of the event, which varies greatly by the sport.
Which ones do you find have more of an active social media fan base, as presumably that would determine your strategies as well?
There is the social media fan base and there is also the amount of data that you are delivering. To use them for comparison, NASCAR have 43 cars going round at 200 miles an hour. The amount of data that you are collecting on a second by second basis is tremendous. We have to process about ten events so ten pieces of data per second per car during a race. Therefore there are enormous amounts of data coming through and that’s not even accounting for social media data. Then we aggregate the statistical data and the social media data and combine it. If you look at golf, there is probably a piece of data coming through every three seconds on average but there is much more of it. This is because of the number of data points collected at a golf event and a number of data points that are being derived from those in terms of player statistics are much greater. Again, it has to do with the nature of a particular sporting event, the type of data that you are collecting, how you are processing that data and combining that data with social media.
In terms of which sport has a more active audience, it is tough to say. Golf appeals to a more mature audience pretty much across the world. The amount of social media outlets you will be listening to is big because you are listening to the entire world. NASCAR is more US based. You are really focusing on Twitter and Facebook as your two primary social media outlets along with Instagram. It is tough to compare as it is so different and the types of outlets that you are listening to is different.