access to replays of goal-line incidents and other on-field moments—whether
on a TV, a tablet or a smartphone.
These types of projects often involve narrow time frames and accelerated
deadlines, which means project managers must take a creative approach to
deliver initiatives on time—and on target.
A NEW PROJECT ARENA
The United States’ National Football League (NFL) just completed its second
year using a real-time location system in which each of the 22 players on the
field is tracked using two radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. The project to launch this technology was run by Zebra Technologies Inc., a Lincolnshire, Illinois, USA-based provider of RFID solutions.
Zebra traditionally manufactured bar-code labels and supplied hardware
and software packages for factory and supply-chain management, mostly
for automakers. But the company’s leaders saw untapped project potential.
Real-time transmission speeds allow RFID technology to convey information
about motion, which has applications across sectors.
“We took a whiteboard and wrote out industries and use cases where speed
of information mattered. We actually wrote, ‘where real-time decisions could
change the game,’” remembers Jill Stelfox, vice president and general manager,
location solutions group, Zebra, San Jose, California, USA. The sports industry
was on the list, along with healthcare and oil and gas. Precise data detailing
players’ location and movements could be valuable to stats-hungry fans and
Ms. Stelfox approached the NFL about a collaborative trial project in which
Zebra could test its Motion Works Sports Solution product in two NFL stadiums during the 2013 season. The primary goal of the project was to create
new opportunities for fan engagement. Ms. Stelfox proposed Detroit, Michigan, USA’s Ford Field (close to Zebra’s auto industry-focused offices in the
area) and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, home to the San Francisco
49ers and close to Ms. Stelfox’s office.
“Proximity is extremely useful during the development phase because it
keeps logistics from getting in the way of your velocity. It allows you to keep
“Goal-line technology will
become a permanent part of
football in all the major football
leagues. The technology is
mature and reliable, and we are
focusing on new applications.”
—Dirk Broichhausen, GoalControl GmbH, Würselen, Germany