The business case behind AusCycling's data analytics investment

Cycling organisation covering clubs across Australia details its new technology investment and why it's so keen to harness insights for customer and product innovation

Knowing customers better, harnessing their product and membership usage to personalise engagement and building out differentiated products is firmly in the sights of AusCycling after deploying a data analytics platform.

AusCycling, the national sporting organisation responsible for development, facilitation and growth of cycling as a sport in this country, has officially commenced work with vendor, Qlik, to build out its data capabilities.

The organisation is the result of an amalgamation of several cycling and bike riding organisations including Cycling Australia, BMX Australia and Mountain Bike Australia. The merger, which occurred about two years ago, brought together more than 54,000 members and 400 cycling clubs under the one umbrella.

AusCycling executive general manager, Agostino Giramondo, told CMO the decision to adopt Qlik Cloud analytics was about building a data-driven culture across the organisation. In the first instance, the platform is being used to optimise analysis of all membership data and provide a real-time view of customers.

This, in turn, will improve efficiencies and operations and help AusCycling realise its vision of making all forms of cycling accessible to everyone, he said.

Establishing a data-driven culture

Giramondo said it was clear when he joined AusCycling 18 months ago that it was behind the eight ball when it came to data capabilities.

“The bigger sports that are well-funded can just invest in systems to understand their data better. We were still working on spreadsheets and I knew we had to do things better,” he said.

Having met a senior member of the Qlik team on a corporate bike ride, Giramondo became interested in the platform and what it could do for AusCycling.

“Qlik was new to me, but we had a meeting and it was apparent the team understood what we wanted to do and that we were starting from a very basic point. It was important to acknowledge that,” he said. “We need this to be supported from their end. Qlik is growing with us, which is great.”

As a first step, a proof of concept has been built in partnership with Qlik and its implementation partner, Decision Inc Australia, to provide AusCycling with ingest necessary data from its membership system into Qlik. The pair deliver data reporting and visualisation backed by artificial intelligence (AI) and automation capabilities.

AusCycling uses TidyHQ to manage its membership, uniting previously disparate membership systems into the one platform at the end of 2021. This gives the team the ability to start to compare year-on-year data with accuracy for the first time, Giramondo said.

“We’re taking a common sense approach by starting to look at how we can affect our reporting in general,” he continued. “For example, any board member or executive can log into the dashboard and see in real time how many members we have, by tiers, which we didn’t have previously, as well as by cohorts and segments. The first step is having that dashboard to see things in as real time as possible.”

This is particularly important as AusCycling approaches a critical renewal period in December and January. Historically, cycling members bought their membership at this time each year.

“Now, you can buy anytime and get a 12-month membership, so in the long term, this flexible renewal will spread out. But for now, December and January remain key months for renewal,” Giramondo said. “Through the dashboard, we’ll be able to see more of that. Such insight can then help us with minimising churn across our membership base. Today it’s an educated guess at best.”  

AusCycling offers different tiers of membership, from non-competitive through to obtaining a racing licence and being affiliated with a specific club, to racing internationally.

“We have the data, we know who they are, but the analytics behind that isn’t great,” Giramondo said. “But we have to do this in in ways that keeps people on the journey and that’s not too disruptive and works with what we’ve got. We have all these other data entry points, such as race entry systems, for example – there are four or five of them, but we can’t merge those as yet. All have different requirements. We needed something in middle to talk to them all, so what we get out the other end is a clear view of our customer.

“We want to know, for example, the membership type, how many and types of races a customer does, and the products that customer may have bought from an ecommerce in the future. Then we can personal the experience. We can know your value and know how you might like things like free entry to two participation rides, for instance.”

The plan is to have all membership reporting through the Qlik platform in the next year. “Then we have a runway to look at what might work in finance and potentially martech,” Giramondo said. “There’s also work to do on our Web platforms as well, which are disparate.”

The ultimate aim is to be better equipped to talk to customers, use insight to minimise churn, and understand different products better in order create new ones.

“We want to get personalised. This could be down to insurance, which is such a grudge purchase in sport. We want to disrupt and change that,” Giramondo said. “For example, if we know you have private health cover, we could build up the different pieces you need individually rather than a flat fee. Then you’re building what you need and know what you’re getting out of it. It’s your choice.

“That nimbleness, which we don’t have yet, will become available to us because the data will help us understand more about the customer.”

The why of tech use

As to the measures used to gauge tech success, Giramondo said it’s all about using data for good.

“We’re not doing this solely to have easier reporting. We are doing this because we don’t currently have enough insight to help us redefine the products we put into market,” he said. “Our product suite is just influenced by history and very little understanding of the customer right now. The plan is to know more about our customers, gain a far more differentiated product suite and obtain greater success as a result.

“Sport is a release for so many people… Working with stakeholders, you know what a difference you and the sport can make in their lives. It’s been really tough for people over the last two years particularly and we don’t want them to have problems with us communicating the wrong information to them about their membership. We want them to have a good experience so they know in their lives that sport is looking after them.”

For Qlik, the AusCycling partnership follows a recent partnership with Team Qhubeka as its official analytics partner for the 2022/23 race season, optimising all aspects of the cycling team from logistics to performance. Qlik also recently partnered with Decision Inc to leverage its AutoML technology and advanced analytics to predict the results of the UCI Road World Championships.  

“We are witnessing how big data analytics can be a game changer in the sports industry, especially within the cycling sector. We are thrilled to deepen our capabilities and broaden our reach to help this industry innovate and optimise their operations with readily accessible data,” Qlik Country Manager A/NZ, Paul Leahy, said. “We look forward to working with AusCycling further in creating a more sustainable and data-literate community.”

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