Venue Technology Summit Q&A: Aaron Freimark, CTO, Tekserve

These days, sports stadiums and arenas are becoming more technologically advanced as teams and leagues constantly develop new ways to engage their customers and satisfy sponsors on game day.

Aaron Freimark, Tekserve

Aaron Freimark, Tekserve

Tekserve, known primarily for its integration of Apple products into the video-production workflow, has found itself a home by taking that engagement to the next level. Among its many other projects, the company has developed a solution aptly titled Ground Game, which allows sports franchises to use iPads in kiosks and luxury suites and manage the content available on the devices.

At last week’s Sports Venue Technology Summit, Chief Technology Officer Aaron Freimark sat down to discuss Tekserve’s strong push into venue technology and how iPads can change the in-venue experience.

What is it about sports-venue technology that is interesting to Tekserve?
We’ve had fantastic relationships with the leagues for a long time. As they’ve gone into the desktop production, Mac-based workflows, we’re really proud to be the go-to source to set up and maintain their equipment. These are some of the most demanding workflows in the world that are really pushing the envelope with bandwidth, needing reliability, and large storage.

In the meantime, we’re known as the video-workflow guys, but our business really accomplishes a bunch of different pieces. Another area of priority that we’ve done, is iOS management on the iPad, specifically. We know that our customers that buy from us now really love what we do, are looking at tablets and looking at working that into the fan experience and engaging the fan in new ways. We’re trying to approach this from a non-traditional angle but as a way of saying, There are these great solutions out there and let us help you run with these.”

What are some of your company’s goals? For your clients, what are you looking to accomplish?
When you start thinking about Apple in business, the first thing that a lot of people think of is a fan bringing their own device. That’s not how we approach it. What we see that is very interesting is kiosks and ways of integrating luxury boxes.

In terms of a sports venue, that’s going to take the place of three or four different scenarios.

First, there is the fan that brings their own device into a venue, and we’re helping them out, whether it be through iBeacons or location services and helping fans navigate their own ways through different resources, building in-venue location services and fan engagements in apps that fans download [and] interact with whether the game is on or not.

Another way is to do point-of-sale in the businesses and restaurants. Our partner Revel Systems just outfitted the Alabama State University football stadium, launching in September with iPads for point-of-sale. They’ve made some fantastic strides with that project. The iPads actually run on battery power, which was huge during a game when, during construction, they lost power. The iPads were still able to run and ring up sales. Clients used to have to go around every night and count inventory. Now [they have] a much more intelligent point-of-sales system: at every moment, every iPad knows its inventory. The amount of time that is saved and the amount of resource allocation that you can do on these devices is much, much improved.

There’s also interactive kiosks for fans to go up and ask questions using installed iPads, which can also serve as interactive digital signage. It’s a really inexpensive way to put content out there. We’re doing that with various customers, including at Hilton Hotels and in airports.

Then there’s the engagement in the skyboxes with the VIPs, being able to give them a device that has all of the content that you want on the newest, sleekest devices. You want to give them the best experience. You’re taking what’s really a very personal device and making it into a public one, something that can be passed around from person to person [without the] worry about personal information being compromised. It also allows you to control the content and get your apps and messages on there.

Tell us more about Ground Game.
This solution is actually quite a challenge. When you start having iPads in stadiums, iPad pilot tests require a tremendous amount of attention. Many are surprised by just how much attention they need. Many of the projects that we have seen get started in a pilot phase and never leave pilot. This is something very familiar, I think, to places doing this.

So what we have is a distributed-management solution that’s not mobile-device management. It works in conjunction with mobile-device management, but it goes well beyond that to manage every aspect of the device. It can manage software upgrades, we can manage apps, we can manage app positions; we can lock things down and push content through this. Ground Game is the full iPad management and lockdown solution from Tekserve.

Freimark is also the founder of enterpriseios.com, a Web community for the exchange of iPad tricks, tips, and strategies.