3 Small Biz Lessons from the (A)ll (I)ngland Lawn Tennis Club

There’s no “I” in England, but I still have my Passport

Living in London, a day at Wimbledon’s Centre Court was a must-do – even if my main lesson was that pre-mixed Pimm’s is an abomination.

Next week the 136th Wimbledon Tennis Championships begins. Did you know the All England Club has been using AI to support its broadcasts since 2017? So what can we small and medium sized business owners learn from the news AI will also be used for commentary at this year’s event?

  1. Your AI Tool of the Week returns serve to anyone who says AI is new and unproven
  2. Blackboard Fridays Episode #15 provides 6 criteria for assessing any trusted advisor (accountant, coach, lawyer, or mentor) in your business

1. WatsonX – 3 SME Lessons from IBM and Wimbledon

AI Powered Commentary Online | Powered by Jeopardy winner WatsonX

The Pitch: “Serving up tradition with an innovative spin”

In 2017, Wimbledon leveraged AI to create their ‘Cognitive Highlights’ short video series. Using machine learning they were able to produce more content for their website, highlighting players on lower courts who would not otherwise have featured – and these videos boosted viewer numbers by 14.4 million views.

In 2023, having evolved their program through the necessities of the past few years, these videos will now also feature audio and text commentary powered by generative AI technology. Wimbledon have long made wise investments that others thought were unnecessary – how many other major sporting events were relaxed in 2020 because they’d been buying pandemic insurance for 20 years?

So what can smaller enterprises learn from this announcement?

1.1 It’s about the customer, not the technology

Whether it’s faster horses or spatial computing, your business thrives on customer outcomes not the underlying technology used to achieve it. 

Wimbledon didn’t wedge AI where it didn’t make a difference – they knew customers valued their highlight videos, but budget and time constraints limited how many could be produced each day by humans.

Unquestionably, Wimbledon have identified dozens of other ways they want to improve the customer experience and yield. Artificial Intelligence was an option for executing change in some areas, while other improvements were more traditional.

1.2. Understand Technology … and its limits

For SMEs right now, AI is a value-add to your expertise not a magic wand (of the 10+ tools I test every week, half fail to deliver on their pitch).

Wimbledon isn’t trying to make AI cream their strawberries, catch their errant balls, or commentate on the Centre Court matches. They understand the present opportunity – take a sport like tennis, where computers already record gigabytes of data, and use AI for analysis, summaries, and now generative AI for commentary and text-to-speech.

If you wanted, you could plug together a few tools right now and do the same for your Team Meetings! Imagine if your AI generated Team Meeting summaries sounded like tennis match commentary…

“Jacob requests a project update.

The manager volleys in a panic.

Aaaaaand that’s out.

Expect Jacob to continue down that line for the remainder of the meeting.”

Once you have identified your customer needs, understand the tools that are truly available to you to solve those problems.

1.3. What can AI Replace or Leverage – not Invent?

More than a decade ago my clients began offshoring team members, mostly in Central Europe and South-East Asia. This wasn’t about creating new products or departments, the focus was delivering what they always had … with more efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Today, AI provides a similar promise. The All England Lawn Tennis Club aren’t using AI to experiment with videos and commentary for the first time – they’re using it replace more expensive processes and as leverage to create more content especially for those lower-ranked players who would otherwise not feature.

Yes, they have a wealth of data to draw upon (“cheer recognition” and “handshake detection” are among the components used), but I know right now every single SME could be using AI in some way to replace or leverage their current business activities. Only a few are ready to use it for invention.

If you’re not, because you feel a little green, should we organise a conversation so I can give you a serve?

2. Blackboard Fridays Episode #15 – How to Find A Trusted Advisor

In a different time, the business owner’s most trusted advisor was their bank manager – who knew more about your business than the individual who receipted your income and spoke with you every week?

Banks being banks, today most owners view their accountant as their most trusted advisor. But if you review the 6 elements in this week’s video, you’ll recognise that many accountants, coaches, and lawyers who claim to be your most important friend in business … just aren’t equipped to deliver on that promise, and the other work you pay them for.

Ultimately, it’s about having Guidance and Understanding when you need it most.

Watch this week’s video or read the summary article here.

Who’s helping you?

With love,

Jacob Aldridge
International Business Advisor
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