MLB Advanced Media

Close collaboration and experienced technologists, a winning combination for Major League Baseball Advanced Media.

Snapshot

Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) powers the digital experiences that bring America’s pastime into the future. Everything from streaming apps for fans to CRM tools for each of the clubs and tools for broadcast partners. One piece of technology, web forms for ticket purchases, contests, sweepstakes etc. had become out of date and needed an update to fix inefficiencies and reduce headaches for their partners at the club level. 

Working with Spark Digital, MLBAM was able to remake the product from the ground up, satisfy a large stakeholder base, exceed performance expectations and eliminate inefficiencies all while saving vital human resources.

Business

Challenges

The process for clubs to create their web forms was slow, manual and a drain on human resources. Consequently, opportunities for clubs to quickly develop forms that would increase customer engagement and capture customer information were being lost or delayed. To keep the clubs, their primary stakeholders, happy, MLBAM needed to take the pain of the process away by making it faster and easier. 

While the basic goal of efficiency was obvious, MLBAM still needed to identify specific pain points that would drive the prioritization and development of new features within the product roadmap. 

Results

  • Clubs can now make better-looking forms with more functionality in a fraction of the time it used to take. 
  • Improved data collection and analytics empowering improved customer targeting and engagement. 
     

Technology

Challenges

Automation. The old solution was highly manually and therefore slow and expensive. The new form system needed to reduce the need for custom code and backend system maintenance by 80% or more.  

CMS Integration. The new form system had to be compatible and integrated into the CMS MLBAM used for its other web services. 

Dynamic Scalability. The old platform was self-hosted and built on antiquated technologies such as Applets. The new product needed to fix those problems by moving to a cloud-based host while also accounting for large spikes in use during contests, sweepstakes or bursts of ticket transactions. The new tool had to dynamically handle peaks in traffic and reduce scale when needed to minimize cost. 

UX/UI. Automating form creation would put more responsibility of form creation with the club marketing departments. Instead of engineers doing the work marketing departments would take on a larger role. This meant that a user friendly UI needed to be developed which then, of course, had to connect fields and other data with the existing backend. 

Results

  • We set out to automate 80% of the form creation process. With the MVP we were able to exceed that goal with 95% automation. 
  • Hosted the platform with Amazon Web Services and developed dynamic scaling to accommodate over 2,000 transactions per second, 800 above the client’s requirement. 
  • Developed and automated QA system that minimized bugs reported by users to near zero. 
  • Spark Digital iteratively designed and built the solution using AWS, Angular.js, Java and Couchbase amongst others. The solution supported custom form development, a drag-and-drop interface for customizing the form, adding validation rules and designing the form. The solution automatically launches the form into production and provides the security necessary to handle credit card information securely.

Our Approach

We worked with the client to define three phases of the project: Discovery, Requirements and User Story Definition, Design and Development. 

In the discovery phase we interviewed over 35 stakeholders and defined 18 specific pain points which informed our future-state and systems requirements recommendations. In this phase we also worked with MLBAM to conduct a thorough current state analysis. 

In the requirements phase we developed user stories to drive feature prioritization and design and development planning. We also began to make specific recommendations on requirements and tech stacks for the new product.

Throughout this partnership with MLBAM, our collaborative and agile methodology allowed us to routinely re-prioritize the product roadmap and delivery schedule to conform to specific resource and timing needs, which was critical for delivering a successful product launch.. 

The Team

To meet MLBAM’s need for speed, we assembled a core team within a few days. The team grew to include a project manager and three UX researchers and designers, an architect, a development manager, seven engineers working on both front and back-end development and a small QA team.

Working with the Client

This project required both speed and close collaboration between MLBAM and Spark Digital. To get the ball rolling we brought the core  team onsite to kick off the project and did as much of the discovery work onsite. 

After discover, the team worked in a hybrid onsite/offsite model. The project was run using an agile methodology with 2-week sprints for design and development, daily internal standup, weekly scrum discovery and grooming and demos every two weeks with an expanded group of client stakeholders. 

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