Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Social Local Mobile Running Info




I've been running road races with some consistency for the last ten years.  I'm perhaps a bit faster now than when I started so I am glad for that.  What has been interesting for me has been the evolution of how sign-ups and data sharing work.  Many race organizers rely on multiple vendors for these tasks. They'll use Imathlete or Active.com or some ticket website to gather sign-ups.  Usually a local firm handles the timing and chips because onsite work is required.  Finally the starting gun goes off and the racers cross the timing mat and head out on the course.

If it is a 5-K race the speedy finishers cross the line in 16+ minutes and look to see what the big time clock says.  As more racers come in the computer dutifully logs in their time until everyone finishes.  Meanwhile the timing company starts printing out result sheets and taping them to tables or walls so people can see how they did - and some will take pictures of the sheet with their mobile phone. These results need to be compiled in almost real time so that ribbons, medals, or blueberry pies can be doled out to the winner in each age group.

After a recent 4 mile race in our hometown, my son and I were surprised when our phones received the following text:
It contained our respective race results!  This was much better than elbowing our way up to the taped up copies or even the kiosks that some organizers have.  We now had an artifact of sorts sent right to our phones.  In the context of SOLOMO (Social, Local, Mobile) - this text kind of hit all three.

In the grand scheme of things, this communication is just one more way in which our phones are becoming a little bit more indispensable as collectors of our digital detritus. Although many of the runners undoubtedly use Strava, MapMyRun or some other trackers - this text provides another artifact to validate those providers.

So far we've not been spammed by the provider for other services or races, but I wonder if they'll reach out next year to remind us to sign-up?  It also raises the question of whether the race organizer gets access to all those mobile numbers.

Is there a lesson here for information companies? Perhaps - it reinforces the way our mobile devices deliver timely alerts for our weekend activities and it raises the question as to what information providers can push through to your phone Monday through Friday that you can't wait to receive.

What content does your team create that customers need right now and can you provide it to a mobile device?  

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