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Review of the North America Sports Data Systems Study

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The good people over at Turnkey Intelligence have released their Fourth Annual Sports Data Systems Study.  In the study North American sport clubs, performing arts venues and collegiate athletic offices were surveyed on a range of topics from social media and research sources, to our personal favorites, ticketing solutions & CRM systems. I’ve picked out my top 4 key takeaways from this year’s results for you.

1. Organizations are realizing that a ticket solution that does CRM is not the same as a CRM solution that does ticketing.

Two vendors, Paciolan and Ticketmaster (and their Archtics platform) appeared as both CRM solutions and as ticketing systems.  Ticketmaster was listed as the number one ticketing system and number two CRM solution and Paciolan ranked as the number three ticketing system and number five CRM solution.  As teams and properties appear to better understand the importance and value of CRM (up 5% from 2012), the more CRM market share both Ticketmaster and Paciolan seem to lose.  It’s our take that CRM should be at the heart of a property’s fan engagement model and that ticketing should be a spoke from that, rather than the opposite; a message that we’ve had success with in places from the UK, to Brazil and the Middle East.  From these trends, it looks like North American properties are starting to come around to that line of thought as well.

2. Only one CRM platform appears to be gaining market share and getting stronger: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Of the four named CRM platforms in the survey, only Microsoft Dynamics has shown year-on-year growth for the past two surveys, and was listed as the number one preferred partner in the CRM system field.  As a Microsoft gold partner, we couldn’t agree with the industry more.  With the expanded functionalities in the release of its latest version, Dynamics CRM 2015, we expect to see Microsoft in the top spot with growth for a third year in 2015.  Another interesting result from this data is that the perception of Salesforce being the industry leader, yet only ranking fourth with no year-on-year growth from 2013.  While Salesforce may appear to have the sizzle, it’s Dynamics that continues to bring the steak.

3. Organizations seem less satisfied with their solutions and more open to changing their CRM or ticketing vendors

Only 61% of respondents said they were satisfied with their CRM provider, down from almost 3 in 4 respondents in the 2013 survey.  Just 64% were satisfied with their ticketing provider, marking 2 straight years of decline for that metric.  On the opposite end of the curve, the rates of dissatisfaction increased as well, with 6% of respondents unhappy with their CRM solution and 12% unhappy with their ticketing system.  All 3 named ticketing systems experienced some substantial volatility from the period of 2013 to 2014 compared to from 2012 to 2013, which leads us to believe that more properties are keen on finding the optimal solution for them and not afraid to make a change.

4. Having an easy to use solution remains a key priority

Having a strong CRM solution or ticketing system does no good if it’s not easy to use by all integral members of staff.  When asking about CRM aspects, ‘Ease of Use’ by administrators and by the sales team were ranked first and tied for second, respectively.  When looking at the ticketing system aspects, ‘Ease of Use’ for administrators ranked second, and for buyers ranked third.  With only a little more than half of the respondents claiming to have 1-2 fully dedicated CRM employees, it’s vital to have a solution and CRM strategy that can get buy-in from all participants, not just the CRM experts.  And on the ticketing side, having a system that is difficult to configure or challenging to buy from, will just lead to frustration on both sides of the box office window. 

The tenets of ‘ease of use’ are our inspiration behind our newly re-designed Comm Creator email marketing module which you can learn more about here:

*All statistics referenced herein come from Turnkey’s Fourth Annual Sports Data Systems Study found at


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