4 Ways to Successfully Build a Sports Technology Ecosystem

by Oct 18, 2021Elite Sport, Most Popular, News

In early 2017, in the days when we could meet in person for coffee and not wear a mask, a plan was hatched to make Special Olympics Australia the one stop sports technology shop for all matters learning when it came to sport and people with an Intellectual Disability (ID) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

At the time we probably didn’t know the impact we could have in four short years, or how the portal would cater to over 5000 learners in this time frame. From a blank piece of paper, some existing resources and a whole lot of strategic thinking, SOA Learn is now a world leading source of engaging courses and resources amplifying the skills of the Australian sporting community. 

And of course, as was always the end goal, providing a more engaging, fun, safe and purposeful environment for sporting participants who have an ID and ASD. We have had the great privilege to learn so much about the experiences of participants working with the Special Olympics Australia team and are incredibly proud of the impact we have been able to have in collaboration. 

With the portal recently welcoming its 5000th learner we thought it timely to take a look in the rear view mirror and analyse how the Special Olympics Australia team have reached such lofty heights with their Sports Technology products. 

1. Know Your Place in the Market

From the beginning of the process there was a very clear objective – to position Special Olympics Australia as the subject matter experts when it came to the participation experience of athletes with an ID and ASD.  

This objective was without hubris and designed to unite the Australian sporting community, whilst alleviating the need for National, State and Local Sporting Organisations to create their own resources in this space. SOA Learn is now the recognised learning platform for sporting administrators, coaches, parents, teachers and volunteers to access industry leading materials and with over 3500 completed courses and 10’s of thousands of resource downloads it’s clear that this objective has been achieved. 

2. More Than Courses 

One of our catch cry’s at Playbk is – ‘keep ‘em coming back’, referencing the strategic positioning of ongoing resource and content development to ensure learners always have something new to access. The Special Olympics Australia team have executed their vision of consistently releasing world class online learning courses and supplementing these with other useful technology enhanced learning materials.  

The Autism Inclusion Webinar Series engaged thousands of learners over six topics, all of which now reside on SOA Learn as an on-demand resource. Their NSO delivery resources have been launched recently and the Playing for All activity cards are currently getting an overhaul to be re-released in the coming months. SOA Learn is more than just courses, and this has been key to growing their community and continually providing value to them. 

SOA Learn powered by Playbk Sports

3.  Know Where You’re Going

Perhaps the most important strategic investment Special Olympics Australia made was the Roadmap to 10,000 Learners resource developed in 2020. This collaborative project sought the voice of the SOA Learn community whilst considering the long-term objectives of the organisation and its partners.  

The result was a comprehensive sports technology strategic roadmap identifying vision, purpose, key metrics and tactics to achieve success. The organisation is currently in front of projections for year-on-year user increase percentage (having already achieved metrics identified for October, 2022), satisfaction ratings and generating revenue through grant applications. The foresight to go down the roadmap path to ensure total clarity and strategic alignment to business objectives has been a positive enabler to the continued growth of SOA Learn over the last 18 months. 

4. Lead. Innovate. Execute

The Roadmap, albeit an impressive strategy, is just that – a strategy. Without the combined efforts of the Special Olympics staff and ongoing collaboration with the Playbk team, there is a potential for the strategy to lack the execution required for success. 

However, over the next six months SOA Learn will: 

  • Take on a new look with a more bespoke experience for segmented user groups 
  • House 3 courses on physical literacy – the first of its kind in the world 
  • House 3 new courses for volunteers including the introduction of Unified Leadership 
  • See an upgrade for the Young Athletes Coach Accreditation course 
  • Install a payment gateway for identified courses 
Special Olympics Australia athlete ten pin bowling athlete celebrating success

SOA Learn is an ever-evolving sports technology digital asset, with updates being released regularly and the goal of providing more value to the 5000 plus registered users on the portal. The outcome of this ongoing delivery of content is an engaged sports tech community and improved sporting experiences for participants with an intellectual disability and autism

It’s fun and humbling to look back on the early phases of SOA Learn and indeed how the platform has seen such significant growth in the last four years. More exciting though is to focus on the future and consider the far-reaching impact the organisation will have as it continues breaking ground by fusing education, sport and technology. 

You can create a free account at SOA Learn and start learning today.

If you’re on the starting blocks or an established sports technology veteran, we encourage you to download our 10 Ways to Commercial Fan Engagement resource.

This resource explores the intersection of sport, technology and education to engage fans and generate revenue in the process.


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