People today use technology to feel closer to friends, family, and of course, their sports teams. Sports teams are adapting to this changing reality, streamlining communication and working behind the scenes to build closer connections between themselves and their fans.
As the digital industry booms, with spending expected to reach 1.3 trillion in 2018, teams around the world are determining how to utilize this technology to become more closely connected with their fans. While many teams want to be at the forefront of innovation, most aren’t quite sure where to start.
That’s where Andy Steen comes in.
Steen, the head of strategic marketing at Avaya, works to provide technological solutions to the 90 sports teams and venues around the world that work with Avaya, assisting them in navigating the changing digital landscape.
A former dancer, Steen started her career about as far from technology as you can get, yet she always stayed close to sports, working both as a Golden State Warrior dancer and San Francisco 49ers cheerleader. Those experiences provided her an up-close look at how a front office works and inspired her to continue working in sports. While dancing continues to hold part of her heart, reflected in her Twitter handle @andydances, she eventually pivoted into the marketing world – though not before picking up a Super Bowl ring with the 49ers.
It was then that her passion became clear.
“As I moved through my marketing career working at various different agencies, I started to put the two together. I wanted to work in sports and I wanted to work in marketing,” says Steen.
Since starting her current role at Avaya nearly four years ago, Andy has negotiated and landed corporate sponsorship deals with teams and venues including the New York Mets and the Pepsi Center. She also led the team that secured Avaya’s sponsorship deal with the San Jose Earthquakes. The team’s venue, Avaya Stadium, opened its fourth MLS season last weekend.
With all of Avaya’s sports partners, Steen works with her in-house team to deliver social, digital, and mobile business solutions to help teams navigate a changing fan appetite, which demands more connection, including personalized, real-time experiences and engagement with their favorite teams.
Every day, Steen gets to work with her passions, which span across sports, technology, and marketing.
Working closely with her passions, which span across sports, technology, and marketing, Steen realized the importance of building her personal brand and having a voice in those areas.
“As a person in marketing,” explains Steen, “you need to have a point of view.”
For her, this took shape on the Avaya Connected blog where she regularly documents Avaya’s forward-thinking technological solutions and the broader relationship between sports and technology.
“If you have great ideas, they will only go as far as you are able to push them,” says Steen, recommending that professionals invest time in their passions as they move through their careers and develop a voice on those subjects, whether through blogging or social media.
Through working at the forefront of sports technology, and documenting those experiences on her blog, Steen can see that teams are only beginning to tap into what’s possible.
“We’re on the cusp of another big boom,” says Steen. “There have been a lot of advancements in technology over the last 20 years, but in the next five years, it’s going to accelerate. It’s going to impact the apps, the way we track athletes, the way we consume the game, the things we can do at the game, the things we can do to be a part of the game.”
Not only is the technology changing, but the culture of the industry is changing as well. As a female leader in sports and technology, Steen has noticed a gender imbalance in the industry but has hopes that change is coming.
“I think it is going to take years to fix it, but I don’t think it’s going to take generations,” reflects Steen. “This is the generation of woman that will make an impact on sports.”
She credits the national professional group Women in Sports and Events (WISE), which hosts a strong San Francisco Bay Area chapter, as a powerful community that is putting together dynamic conversations around women in the sports industry.
As the sports and technology landscape continues to change, welcoming both more equality and cutting-edge technology, Steen and Avaya are ready to lead sports teams into the next frontier: a more connected world.