Formula 1 is using the Salesforce platform to power its data and create experiences for millions of fans around the world.
Zarah Al-Kudcy, Head of Commercial Partnerships at Formula 1, says that F1 has been going through a period of digital transformation since the game was taken over by Liberty Media in January 2017. As part of this change process, he says that the game is looking. on creative ways to build deeper relationships with fans, on the track and at home:
For over 70 years, F1 has been a sport built on technology, but built on technology around the cars themselves. Now I’m using technology for our fans, marketing the game in the right way and improving awareness.
While the sport is famous for its use of high-performance automotive technology, Al-Kudcy says the past few years have also been about digital transformation. The sport has more than 500 million fans worldwide, but less than 1% of them attend the Grand Prix each season. As a global sport with a huge appeal, he says F1 needs to find a way to reach the millions of people who cannot attend a race in person every year:
It is a twofold thing. One is to understand the 99% of fans who don’t attend the Grand Prix every season and give them an engaging and personal experience. But we also have a lot to do against other sports. We didn’t have Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, so we’ve had six years of rapid growth. And now it’s about understanding and using data.
This is where Salesforce comes in. F1 is using the Salesforce Genie Customer Data Cloud through Customer 360 to create real-time insights about its millions of fans. The aim, says Al-Kudcy, is to try to understand the behavior of the agents and make connections between the knowledge contained within the F1 technology:
The most important thing is to customize it so that it remains relevant. It’s also a recognition that we’re a sport that’s always running – we run for 10 months of the year almost every week. We also recognize that our fans are hungry for data. Therefore, it is to ensure that we use the right data in the right ways.
F1 conducted an 18-month RFP exercise for its products and Salesforce emerged as the preferred vendor. The organization started using the technology giant’s software since April last year, after already spending a lot of time building roads and implementing technology.
According to Al-Ludcy, additional opportunities to work with Salesforce have been discovered, including a permanent feature:
We knew that Salesforce was a company built on sustainability – and they demonstrated this clearly when we worked together. But, at that time, we weren’t sure how to use them as our permanent unit. This has taken six months – working with our sustainability team and demonstrating their expertise and their platform – to find out how we can use their technology as part of our sustainability strategy.
When it comes to technology implementation, Al-Kudcy says the biggest challenge his organization faced was making sure the Salesforce platform was properly integrated. F1 was already using different systems and had to change some of the platforms when it introduced Salesforce. He says the transition was made easier by building a close relationship with Salesforce:
That is the bread and butter job of their professional team. Therefore, they helped us to go through the work quickly, to speed up and reach the standard that we expected. The work is still ongoing – because, as with most of these things, it never ends when it comes to innovation.
The next step
Al-Kudcy says that the most important thing in the first year of the establishment is to understand more from the fans. He also said that it has been interesting to see the highlights of some important moments of the competition and to follow the thoughts of his fans. It is believed that the greatest gains in implementation will be made in the following competition:
Last year was about to put it. There are a few things that I can’t say, that the marketing team is releasing at the beginning of the season that will be powered by Salesforce. This means we won’t fully understand the platform’s impact until later this year.
Although some of the details are confidential at the moment, Al-Kudcy says that all sports fans are looking forward to a deeper engagement with teams and professionals these days. This is as true in F1 as it is in other sports – and given that the proliferation of motor racing comes with other challenges:
The biggest challenge we have, and it’s one of the reasons we looked at Salesforce, is that we’re a global platform. And, as a result, the way we communicate and engage with fans in the UK is very different to the US, China or Brazil. And it’s not a matter of language – it’s a cultural thing, too.
Al-Kudcy says that the better his team communicates with the fans, the more opportunities there are to help them. Ensuring that this kind of interaction happens benefits both fans and the business as a whole:
There are many ways to engage with us right now; fans may appear as five or six people. And the whole point of Salesforce is that we have a single, transparent platform that uses our multiple platforms.
When it comes to advice for other professionals considering using Salesforce technology, Al-Kudcy says it’s important to have a clear understanding of what your business is trying to achieve:
This may sound obvious and logical, but understanding what you want is essential to identifying the tools you need. Salesforce has many tools you can use, but if you don’t know what you want to achieve, you can use the wrong tools and get the wrong results.