introduction

why was the service needed?

the background

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) is the international governing body of biathlon. Before the design and development of the IBU app, the digital customer journey of IBU was fragmented and ended before the start of the sport events. Other than manually curating data in the traditional TV broadcasts, IBU had no way to utilize the vast amount of sport data. What’s more, IBU needed to increase the general interest in the sport. A less steep learning curve for the sport adoption would help IBU enhance experiences in a customer-centric way, increasing overall customer satisfaction.
logo
founded in

1993

Ibu has

59

member federations

where is the demand?

the trimester season model & strategic position

As the model of competition in biathlon is the season structure that repeats every year we quickly recognised that to support the customer experience in an optimal way we should think about building the depth of experience and engagement. The season itself splits into three trimesters throughout the winter season and where fans want to follow their favourite locations and biathletes. These key insights enabled a user-centered keystone for the whole customer experience and to guide in developing the features for the app itself.

WHOM DOES THE SERVICE TARGET?

biathlon fans at glance

IBU had produced a vast research material into the profiles of their fans, with both qualitative and quantitative surveys and questionnaires. We started building the picture of an ideal from a few different perspectives (culture, depth of understanding of the sport itself) but more than not there were unifying needs and goals (following their own home country and their favourite athletes, trying to understand the massive amount of data related to the sport and wayfinding at their home turf as many visit the competition locations near then time and time again.
favourite competition:
 antholz-anterselva
favourite biathletes
holiday planning is made

70%

AROUND BIATHLON EVENTS
nps is more than

30%

greater than a sport average
average fan is

30

years old

the approach

what did we want to achieve?

identifying the principal customer needs and the pain points of the experience

The strategic goal of IBU was to establish the first personal digital service that targets fans of Biathlon. Therefore, it was essential to have a customer-centric approach in order to find out what kind of digital partner fans of biathlon would prefer. Because fans have greatly enjoyed the traditional TV broadcasting with its sense of drama, it became apparent that a mobile service supporting this would enhance the overall customer experience in an optimal way. 

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Detailed mapping of the customer journey & touchpoints

We identified the relevant touchpoints of the whole experience by mapping the customer journey. With the help of experts of the sport, we also identified the pain points of the customer journey and the areas needing improvement.

the knowledge & the expertise of biathlon professionals put to use

By interviewing biathlon professionals, we found out that enhancing the live experience would be appreciated, as many fans experienced only a part of the sport’s potential. This was due to coincidental screen time their favourite biathletes got in a traditional directed TV broadcast. The understandability and comparability of sport data was in high demand, too. These things would not only let fans to focus on meaningful experience, but would also decrease the amount of manual effort, enhancing the overall drama of the experience. 

prototyping the hypothesis and listening to customers

Most important of all was listening to the customers, which is why we conducted face-to-face interviews in Kontiolahti, Finland. We reflected our early thinking back to them in an understandable format, along with a prototype. It became apparent that customers wanted to have a great overall experience, valued the visibility of their own favourite biathlonists, and needed to have the sport data at hand such as who won the last competition. A clear and visible seasonal schedule was also in high demand, as multitude of different competition types created complexity throughout each phase of the customer journey.

what were the holistic conclusions?

the insights

the heart of the sport experience is the sport itself

The main driver behind watching sports is to feel the excitement in it. Any digital solution designed for sport consumption should not takeover this experience, but rather, bring a layer of added value on top of it.

every fan experience is unique and different

In fandom, there’s a huge array of different customer preferences varying from which countries and invidual biathlonists one likes to support. These needs often do criss-cross. A successful app would allow personalisation of experience from the beginning.

relevancy & contextuality will save time & effort

People are being offered a vast amount of information, and they can easily feel flooded. Contextuality offers a more customer-friendly way to slice information into relevant, well-timed pieces.

fandom is a journey nurtured from curiosity to expertice

Niche sport content such as nitty-gritty data often succeeds to full-fill only the needs of the most knowledgeables. There will be no future super-fans unless we start nurturing them by lowering the learning curve.

the concept

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what do fans want from from their experience?

the 4 principal customer needs of a biathlon fan

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What were the problems in the customer experience?

the pain points of a biathlon fan

3

the idea & solution

making the life of the fans meaningful and easy

A CONTEXTUAL seasonal competition CALENDAR TO ORGANISE THE season

Trimester season model with multiple parallel competition types created an extra layer of complexity to understand biathlon. This was especially problematic for those still new with the sport. With contextual seasonal calendar, the competitions and the standings would have a clear focus on the most meaningful and personalised content. With a minimal learning curve, this would lead to a quicker & easier adoption of the sport.

fully personalised 2nd screen experience

There is only limited screen time a single biathlonist can have in a TV broadcast. In the context of the competition's drama curve, this given time varies on a current standing of a biathlonist. From a customer point of view this top-down curation was problematic as many fans barely saw their favourites in a TV broadcast. By turning this upside down and making the whole experience fully personalised, we would make a huge difference as fans would be able to follow their favourites all the time during a competition.

living & visualised real-time data to create extra excitement

All the target groups we interviewed, especially the more advanced fans, preferred data being the “spice” of the sport. There was a vast amount of sport data available, but it was hard to find and mostly in numeric and dummy format making it suitable only for manual comparison. By making the data accessible, easy to understand, and more intelligent we would make clear impact in engagement of the sport.

easy learning environment for growing as a fan

Every fan we interviewed started their personal journey from curiosity towards the sport. With a supportive and logical learning environment keeping the learning curve shallow, we would nurture more fans from beginners to pros.

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the concept

engagement funnel to nurture fans from beginners to pros

seasonal competition calendar

Seasonal competition calendar is designed to ensure a clear & understandable experience for eveyone. It gathers all the important competition related information together. The context of the calendar changes depending is there an ongoing cup or not and varies between the individual competitions.
functionality

before the competition

cup navigation and seasonal timeline

navigate through the season

The main structural navigation components to reduce complexity

list of upcoming competitions

competitions always in order

The list of competitions within a cup with status indication

competition details & starting list

Competition at glance

Competition details such as competition name, time counter, forecast predictions and starting list

weather conditions

Forecast as a part of speculation

Shows the forecast of upcoming competition

functionality

after the competition

The winners on the podium

we are the champions

Easy-to-understand conventional visualisation of top performers

competition content

fresh editorial headlines

Shows the personalised content created during the competition

standings at finish

the final results

Makes both standings at finish & World cup total score easily available

personalised 2nd screen experience

With fully personalised 2nd screen experience fans are able to follow their favourites all the time during a competition.
functionality

during the competition

followed biathletes

your personal favourites in spotlight

Puts the personal favourites in the heart of the experience

live feed

experience the drama in real-time

Shows all the relevant events of the competition in real-time

current standings

Stay always updated who is leading

Shows the current leaders of the competition in a list format

living & visualised real-time data

Utilise all the data we collect from the physical environment and athletes to heighten the drama and storytelling of biathlon.
functionality

during the competition

Lap timer

enjoy and speculate the finer details of the sport

Shows the current and last lap time data

Shooting data

The data of your personal favourite always at hand

Shows the last shooting data

Skiing data

Stay updated of the speed of your favourite biathlete

Shows the average speed of the biathlete and pulse

easy learning environment

Present the collected statistics across the IBU digital ecosystem to serve all levels of fandom.

featured biathletes

Learn the biathletes easily

Lists biathletes in understandable and simplified manner.

Visual skill data

Understand easily how good everyone is

Graphic visualisations of individual skill levels and data put in short visual format

Data visualisations

understandable data for everyone

Shows Numeric data in a visual format easier for eye and mind.

biathlon comparison

Compare different biathletes easily

Shows quickly comparable data in visual manner.

Team overview

Learn how good they are combined

Shows the Combined data of different teams first time available

badges for profiling

Learn easily who they are

Shows different skill sets / skill levels put in an understandable buckets

The results

Investing in a new digital channel paid off. The IBU app increased engagement and helped IBU to better serve its customers. Most importantly, it helped users have a better, more enjoyable season experience.
An awesome reception

+83%

increase in overall sessions *
better engagement

2 x

in average engagement time *

* compared to previous season (2020-21) of whole IBU digital ecosystem

monthly active users

98%

of MAU come to watch races in each event

Awards

the winner of the grand prix award (the winner of the whole competition)
THE WINNER (GOLD AWARD) // THE BEST MOBILE SERVICE
Are you experienced?

Download the app

watch the introduction video

service design, ux design, visual design, creative & art direction

Petri "Piitu"Pennanen     Mikko Kiviniemi

technical development
Vincit Oyj
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