Technology Touchdown

By  Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — January 04, 2013

In football, one of the keys to improvement used to be watching (and analyzing) "films" of the games. Film obviously evolved to video and then the tablet came along.

Portable, functional, with great screenshare, the NFL has a committee (see below) dedicated to leveraging this technology. It is the perfect form factor for players to review and re-review games, and securely access playbooks.

It was through this use "on" the field that the Cleveland Browns realized how much the enterprise could benefit as well. Brandon Covert, director of IT for the Cleveland Browns says that the organization views mobility as a way to become more agile and responsive in its workforce.

He explains, "Mobile employees need tools in place to be as productive on the road or in the field as they are in the office. Since most of our resources are located within our internal networks we have looked to mobility to enable us to do things outside of the office that were either cumbersome or even not possible when on the road."

To enable mobility, the Browns had to get its assets into one system. This includes critical documents and archived records such as images that span the existence of the organization. Covert says, "We created a comprehensive company-wide repository for all of our digital assets, which ensures documents are catalogued correctly and organized in the right way."

This system allows mobile users to quickly retrieve files via search or navigation. "Historically each department would be the custodian for their assets, and while that won't change, we now have a unified solution for every aspect of the company's assets," says Covert.

To access these documents in real time in the field, the iPad was chosen, in part, for its ease of use, which Covert cites as "true ROI." On the document side, mobilEcho, an enterprise mobile file management solution, is connected to SharePoint and Covert says, "This is changing how we do business; enabling us to work more efficiently."

On the device side, a solution is provided to the Browns through the NFL, which uses a mobile device management solution from AirWatch. In addition to that, they have created custom apps for sales and scouting.

Covert says, "Our deployments have been straightforward. IT procures and configures the device for managment and preloads apps. I've hosted a few large sessions to go over the device and its functions with the users."

The Browns also allow for BYOD, provided the employee agrees to the installation of the AirWatch client for tracking and remote wiping.

Looking Ahead
There are more enterprise initiatives ahead, but Covert says, "Some of the things we are looking to explore are using mobile devices for taking credit card payments and to enhance the fan experience in certain parts of our stadium, whether for food ordering, live video, or on demand content."

NFL Tablet Committee
The tablet committee is a great forum for discussing mobility among the teams. Each NFL team is owned and operated differently, but we all face a lot of the same challenges. The committee meetings give us a chance to discuss what solutions we're putting in place, or what problems we're looking to solve. It's a really great place to talk with other teams senior IT staff who are extremely familiar with our business and the unique things we go through.
— Brandon Covert, director of IT, Cleveland Browns


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