The Future - One Time
The Future – OneTime
The Holy Grail of mass participation sports timing is likely to be a system that is entirely single-use – and not just the disposable Bib Tag that is worn by the participants in Events today, but the entire timing solution, including the electronics used for detecting the tags and communicating their identity to the ‘scoring’ software.
Trident can now deliver on this promise with a world-first product it calls OneTime. This product is already available as a Minimum Viable Product. The next step is mass commercialisation.
To understand the potential of this new product it’s important to have some background on the needs of the stakeholders when timing 10’s of millions of people participating in sporting events, like fun runs, triathlon and marathons every weekend.
In any race:
- The Participant expects an accurate time
- The Event Manager is obliged to deliver this time
- The equipment used to record the data must perform reliably in order to deliver this time
- The Timing Service Provider must ‘score’ and deliver the Participants times to the Event Manager
- The environmental conditions vary from hot, cold, torrential rain and mud
- and all of this at the lowest possible cost, considering the risks
The consequence of failure in any event can negatively affect 10’s of thousands of people, is often cause for compensation claims, can irreparably damage reputations and has even destroyed the livelihoods of Timing Service Providers in the past.
Traditionally the channel to market for providers of sports timing technology is via Timing Service Providers ‘Timing Companies’, to the end-user – the Event. This is the model that Trident’s CEO pioneered in 2007 and it’s the model that Trident and all of its competitors use today. In 2007 this model provided a wide blue ocean of opportunity. Today, there is much more competition, and there are small variations to this theme to gain competitive advantage, but there is nothing revolutionary.
Today, competitive advantage is derived from the ability to achieve lower prices, have a better service offering or provide ‘a better mouse-trap’. Most of Trident’s competitors implement ‘lock-in’ strategies, because the cost of acquiring a customer is high and the margins can be thin.
Other competitors attempt to operate more widely across the value chain to extract greater value.
It’s a very big, valuable market, and there is still a lot of room for traditional business models (now, and for the foreseeable future) and for all providers to be profitable, especially as new markets like China and India start to open up.
A very infant channel to market that is starting to emerge is from technology provider directly to the Event. This channel can eliminate the cost of the Timing Services Provider, thus reducing the total cost to the Event managers. For the Event Manager however, this approach comes with some serious risks – especially since the Timing Company provides the timing equipment and the expertise to insure a positive outcome. Most Event Managers are risk averse, want one butt to kick, and want the security that the Timing Company delivers.
Looking from a technology provider’s perspective, moving to this equipment rental model also has its challenges and means that they would have to:
- carry a very large number of expensive Timing Equipment assets to service the many events being held every day of every week
- manage the logistics to ship equipment to the events
- make sure that people were competently trained to operate the equipment
- remotely monitor the equipment while it was being used at the events
- ‘score’ the Events
- manage the logistics to receive the equipment back into stock after the events
- check the returned equipment, repair it if necessary, and insure that it is in good working order for the next events
Consider the consequence of failure. With a rental car company (which also has a lot of assets) when a vehicle fails the occupants are inconvenienced. In a road race, failure can mean that 10’s of thousands of people will be inconvenienced. There will be thousands of angry participants, the Event Manager’s reputation is mud and they will be seeking compensation, many people will spend weeks trying to recover by reviewing video footage, and the Event manager will never consider this option again.
Put simply, this model is not easily scalable.
A variant on this model is to sell only the timing tags directly to the Events. Naturally the Timing Service Providers want their cut since they are taking all of the risk and providing the timing equipment to the Event. Some businesses who supply tags are doing very well with this model, but to achieve this they generally have to supply the timing equipment at very close to cost price, so that the Timing Service Provider who generally owns the relationship with the Event Manager, will promote their tags to the event. Customer lock-in is important for them – and lock-in always meets with resistance.
A final obstacle to creating an enduring ubiquitous channel directly to the Event, is that there are several different equipment providers, using different technologies and different lock-in strategies and protocols. Compounding this, the timing technologies also have their own inherent operating limitations. For example, the predominant UHF technology is unreliable in ‘wet events’. Timers prefer to use technology that is best suited to the event (run, swim, tri, etc.), since their reputation and ongoing livelihood depends on the number of participants that they provide an accurate time for. A failure usually means that they will not win the business next time.
To overcome these barriers will require:
- A single timing technology that will work in all conditions – rain or shine, fast or slow, in mud and under water (and more)
- Single-use timing technology so that the inventory cost and the logistics of managing rental stock can be eliminated
- Very low manufactured cost (because it is single-use, the cost cannot be amortised over many uses)
- Very high reliability
- Simplicity and ease of operation – it must be completely fool-proof
- Equipment meeting all occupational health and safety requirements
When this is achieved, Trident will become the dominant provider of sports timing technology. The benefits will be:
- Massively reduced freight/transport costs
- Elimination of the challenge in shipping batteries
- Potential elimination of the Timing Services Provider – though there is nothing preventing the Event from engaging an expert.
- Creation of an enormous brand exposure opportunity because the majority of the Event market will gravitate to the dominant technology
- Improved profitability for all parties engaged in the process, including the Event, Timing Service Providers, the Events’ Support Consultants and Trident and its manufacturing partners.
OneTime is Trident’s world-first single-use timing solution. It represents a shift in paradigm that distributes ‘the power’ of an expensive centralised timing system to every timing tag worn by the athletes or participants. It has already been proven (with Minimal Viable Product) that by taking this approach it is possible to simplify the timing point to such a degree that it can be manufactured so affordably to be single-use – and most importantly, it can be achieved without compromising functionality, reliability or safety.
OneTime technology can be used in almost every type of event (other than a very small niche of extreme high-speed events)