Ross Hutchins/Jorge Escallon
Chief Player Officer/Sr. Director, Player Finance & Treasury, ATP Tour Inc.
The ATP is the governing body of the men's professional tennis circuits ‐ the ATP World Tour, the ATP Challenger Tour and the ATP Champions Tour. The ATP is owned 50% by players and 50% by tournaments. The ATP is a service‐based organization that serves its players and tournament members.
Tennis professionals who compete on the ATP World Tour have an extranet where they conduct their day to day business transactions. This extranet, the ‘ATP PlayerZone’, was built nearly 18 years ago, in 1999. Although it was fully functional, the technology, user experience and security were outdated. The PlayerZone wasn’t mobile‐friendly and had become inconvenient for players constantly on the go that needed to check their entry status on tournaments, find event information and arrange their travel and accommodation. There were no real‐time tournament entry and withdrawal updates, information about players pulling out or being accepted into the draws, updates about travel safety information such as local environment etc.
With increased prize money and a more competitive tour, players now travel with support teams that often include a coach, and agent, and one or two members of the family. In order to help players on a wide array of aspects from tournament scheduling and travel planning, team members were accessing the PlayerZone using player credentials, compromising the security of the site.
Through web stats, surveys and interviews with players, agents, coaches and family, we identified several areas to improve. We wrote an initial set of requirements and engaged with a strong technology services partner in Infosys to help us build the best in class. After a robust discovery phase including players in the process, the key requirements included:
- A responsive user experience and design for desktop, tablet and mobile
- Use intelligence from tournament entry system to deliver key messages to players
- Update and further integrate player and other ATP databases
- Extend access to team support users
- Upgrade Prize Money payment and receipt process
- Enhance Calendar and Scheduling Tool
- Develop mobile app with push notifications
- Enhance security
The mobile app was identified as essential by players given their life on the go and their need for quick and easy access to conduct these critical transactions as professional tennis players.
Before we implemented this solution, players would often have to contact our ATP Staff to help with their business and transactions directly because the PlayerZone had some limitations. Much of this was due to the non‐mobile friendly nature of the website. After we delivered the new and improved PlayerZone to the players, they were able to use the site for most of their needs without having to contact our staff to assist. ATP Player Relations staff can now focus more on value‐added activities with players and less on repetitive tasks. A new feature allows players to grant access to other users in their growing support teams. In the old site, players would share their login credentials with their team members, such as agents, to conduct their transactions. We realized this was a problem, so in the new PlayerZone we allowed for players to add support team members with their own separate login credentials. The player grants them access to his account based on what tasks he wants them to manage. This is a much more secure way for the player to keep his personal information to himself, while still allowing him to receive help from his team members. A player can now also opt for biometric security features that ensure that only his fingerprint will grant access to his account. Together with that, the push notifications that inform players in real‐time about acceptances and withdrawals from tournaments increase cost efficiencies in their tour planning.
The old PlayerZone website had roughly 2000 active accounts. After the PlayerZone 2.0 launch, this number increased to 5000 active accounts. There was an obvious situation of increasing support teams that we needed to adapt to. This increase in accounts demonstrates the previous need for players to have separate accounts for their support teams. There are over 10,000 prize money transactions and the new PlayerZone provides a receipt for each one of those transactions greatly enhancing the prize money and compliance section of the site.
A host of different technologies that are current have been constructed together to work in a seamless fashion:
AJAX calls to databases
Hybrid‐app cordova based (IOS/Android)
We believe that the ATP PlayerZone is now the best‐in‐sport extranet for players. In today’s era, the importance of a digitally connected professional tennis community is vital and with the PlayerZone upgrade, we have delivered this. Our tournament entry system is large scale, complex and unique in the world of professional sports given its global nature and multiple option process. Players from over 100 countries are given options and choices to sign up to multiple events and, depending on ranking, geographical location, and priority, be accepted into tournaments in over 80 countries around the world.
The entry system and all functionality built around it makes this site an essential tool for all players and their teams to be fully engaged with. The additional functionalities built in this new version, the mobile design, and improved user‐friendliness will further engage the professional tennis community and make ATP PlayerZone best in class.
We received praise from all the stakeholder groups that use the PlayerZone (tournaments, agents, coaches, players, families). It has been great to see the positive impact PlayerZone has had and the benefits associated with it for all users. Other tennis organizations have approached us to learn about our enhanced platform and how we can collaborate. We share best practices with other professional sports and they are looking at some areas of PlayerZone that can apply to their business.