Who won the online Super Bowl?

Written by Darren Watkins, Managing Director, VIRTUS Published 2016-02-11 08:00:00

On Sunday the Denver Broncos grabbed victory in Super Bowl 50, producing a defensive masterclass to topple the Carolina Panthers 24-10. This produced the Broncos third Super Bowl trophy while the Panthers remain winless in the final.

Super Bowl Sunday has long been an institution in the US and further afield, even our own capital had pubs and bars selling tickets to their own celebrations ending around 4am. The action itself, Coldplay’s half time show and million dollar ads were taken in by 111.9 million viewers in the US alone on Sunday – up by nearly 30 million from 1995.

As the exposure of the event has grown – so has the way we interact and consume it. Be it following multi-million dollar Super Bowl ads around the internet on smart phones, streaming the action to a mobile device, taking advantage of bookmakers offers online – the Super Bowl continues to create massive spikes in internet traffic but also, crucially, crashes for companies not prepared to deal with it.

Carolina’s QB Cam Newton was taken down numerous times on Sunday by the Broncos defence – but we also now see similar battles within the online space. These grapples are also virtual and were happening amongst the huge increase in traffic within the data centre.

Consumers were rushing online to catch the game and make purchases on Sunday, and in order to facilitate this and make sales, it was vital that businesses had the data centre infrastructure to handle such requirements.

This however, wasn’t quite the case. Beyonce joined Coldplay on stage for the half time show and just following this, her next tour was announced. This resulted in a huge influx of traffic to Beyonce’s website which went down shortly after half time and remained so until gone midnight. Axe (Lynx in the UK) suffered a similar fate with its desktop site suffering substantial performance issues following its ad airing.

At such a competitive time off the pitch as well as on it, within such an exceedingly short time frame, businesses can suffer terribly in losses made due to website delays, with numbers thought to be in the billions. Looking at ads specifically – the average cost of a 30 second ad at the 2016 event cost a mammoth $5 million. Magna Global is reporting that this was the last year that money TV advertising will outstrip digital ads, with digital expected to take over in 2017 and only increase this issue.

Downtime is a fear shared by CIOs globally, as demonstrated by a May 2015 Brocade report. The CIO survey saw a huge 75 percent of respondents citing their network as an issue in achieving their company’s goals with two of the top issues needing to be addressed being the upgrade / expansion of the network itself as well as the data centre. Many though, face issues trying to address these problems within owned facilities where upgrade options can be limited.

Further to this outage fear, with this huge influx of consumers looking to make purchases or signing up with personal details, as well as retailers sending out marketing emails to millions, this also creates a huge cybercrime opportunity. With this extra threat to the revenue opportunities presented by Super Bowl Sunday, is it not prudent to ensure your infrastructure is up to scratch and have one less headache?

In emerging time critical environments, businesses are not only expected to cope with the deluge of sales but also create personalised content that follows the customers and effectively analyse their data.

Sophisticated technology tools are now readily available for retail companies to do this, but these new opportunities are also new challenges, particularly when this technology is untested. Static and inflexible storage facilities no longer meet these challenges, which means it’s more essential than ever that business put robust scalable technology in place to cope with new demands.

Attempting to enter such crucial yet chaotic periods without a rigorously tested robust infrastructure, is genuinely costing some of the world’s biggest businesses huge amounts of money each year. As these unique days only grow in popularity, the need for proper data centre facilities to deal with this only grow too.

This adds to the difficulties faced by CIOs, but some are staying ahead of the curve and getting it right. The likes of Audi and Heinz offered top response times during the Super Bowl despite the deluge of traffic, according to web analytics company Dynatrace.

By making investment in the right kind of facilities in the first place – and ensuring that these are secure and flexible – then the CIO can ensure that customers, as well as the rest of their business, remain happy. Super Bowl Sunday goes way beyond the four quarters of the match for fans and businesses, and such a unique opportunity should be utilised and enjoyed each year, not feared.