By Philippa Snare, CMO, Microsoft UK

We [Microsoft] are proud to be the Official Technology Provider to the British and Irish Lions tour for 2013, this has been a fantastic partnership for us from both a marketing perspective but most importantly from a technology enablement perspective.

Our goal in working with the Lions has been to change the perception of Microsoft in the UK through an inspirational demonstration of the connected power of our technologies. We looked to find an association with a very British passion that capitalises on the current wave of British pride, and our aim is to show and surprise people about what Microsoft technology can do together to create amazing life experiences.

Through services like Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live and MSN we have been able to create opportunities for player to connect with fans and family whilst they are on tour. For coaches and the Lions touring group to be able to stay connected with each players physical wellbeing and mental state, and for fans and the British and Irish People who can’t travel to feel the pride and excitement of the tour without being there with the team.

We have enabled through our devices like our windows phone and our Surface device to help people stay connected, and keep the conversations and video links alive and through our infrastructure we have helped the Lions process and share huge amounts of player data, game stats and business intelligence o they can make quick and smart decisions about tactics and approaches throughout the relentless travel requirements.

This has become the first British & Irish Lions Tour with technology really built into its fabric. Microsoft has embedded technology throughout the team and enabled the fans to engage with the Tour like never before.

At the core is our collective aim to bring the Tour closer to home for the 14.5 million fans at home who will never get the chance to watch the Lions live, as well as ensure the 50,000 travelling Lions fans get closer to the action and stay connected. This has been done by running a number of initiatives under the core proposition of‘ ‘Driving Britain forward through our technology’. A taste of what we have done below……

• Development of the Official Lions Fan app - cross platform and leading with Windows….all on Azure, with over 150,000 downloads to date.
• Development of the Lions performance app — on Azure and used by players each morning to measure fitness with their coach,
• Office 365 integrated campaign — radio, online and broadsheet promotion through partnership with TalkSport radio and Daily Telegraph
• Exclusive content, videos and access for MSN behind the scenes pre-Tour and On-Tour
• Hole in the World concept developed to create an experience connecting UK with Australia through our technology (Skype)
• Once in a lifetime competitions and experiences for fans to travel to Australia in partnership with Qantas
• Bing — The Lions became the first ever bespoke app on Bing Sport worldwide

This has been by far the hardest thing we have ever done, bringing every part of Microsoft together to show how a connected experience helps people, we don’t profess that all people want these things together, but we have at least shown a glimpse into what we can do to help, and the Lions partnership has been the best people and organisation to work with to help us collected show the power of technology to help people in their everyday lives.

Philippa will be speaking at the Digital Marketing Show at Excel, London in November - visit www.digitalmarketingshow.co.uk to find out more

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