Vodafone and ESL agree premium esports partnership
Vodafone has agreed a premium partnership with the Electronic Sports League (ESL), the world's largest esports company.
The deal will see Vodafone sponsor ESL's flagship event series - Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and ESL Pro League - while highlighting how the telco's network is powering the gaming industry around the world.
Its international network currently unites fans and gamers in 25 countries globally via 500mn mobile connections, but with 5G on the horizon it is also keen to promote the potentially-revolutionary benefits esports can expect.
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Vodafone also plans to do some work with ESL to promote diversity, particularly female participation in esports. Male players dominated the landscape and the pair will collaborate with the world’s top female esports personalities to highlight the opportunities for women.
"We are delighted to launch this partnership with ESL and create one of the biggest international networks for esports at a time when audiences are growing rapidly and new technologies are poised to deliver better experiences," said Serpil Timuray, Chief Operations & Strategy Officer, Vodafone Group.
"I look forward to joining our customers across 25 countries in viewing ESL’s exciting esports tournaments, both at home and on their mobile devices.”
Ralf Reichert, CEO at ESL, added: "We are thrilled to partner with Vodafone as our new telecommunication partner for various events. Together with Vodafone we are looking forward to connect even more people and create diversity in esports by ensuring better technological conditions for professional players, fans and ESL employees, fostering corporate responsibility projects and creating awareness around the esports industry to a broader audience. Vodafone is committed to support ESL with all their knowledge and strength and we could not be happier about that."
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”