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A New Paradigm for the NBA

By Michael S. Gliedman, SVP & CIO, National Basketball Association

Michael S. Gliedman, SVP & CIO, National Basketball Association

In his position as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for the NBA, Michael Gliedman oversees the league's efforts to become one of the preeminent technology-driven sports organizations in the world. As head of Information Technology, Gliedman directs a team that focuses on the most cost-effective ways of delivering technical solutions that meet the needs of the NBA, WNBA, and NBA Development League offices.

Gliedman supervises all aspects of the NBA's technical infrastructure including the development and maintenance of an application portfolio that consists of approximately 250 systems supporting all league operations. He directs all technology initiatives relating to the collection, including cataloging, storage, archiving, and retrieval of NBA assets.

“Big data and high-quality video are the hallmarks of everything we do. We are constantly hopping between our roles as the archivists of the NBA while satisfying the needs of the mobile user”

Gliedman was instrumental in the league’s launch of NBA. com/Stats through its partnership with SAP. The unprecedented statistical destination provides access to the league's entire official statistics history, dating back to the inaugural 1946-47 season. 

In 2008, he drove the implementation of the first high-speed video/data network in all of sports. In 2011 he was instrumental he in unveiling a new state-of-the-art broadcast and IT technical facility at the NBA operations center in Secaucus, N.J.

Throughout the year, Gliedman's group oversees the nightly collection and distribution of statistical data from 29 arenas across the league. This information is made available in real time to NBA.com, television, and a variety of third-party providers. His team provides the technical infrastructure and on-the-ground support for more than 50 major events each year, including NBA All-Star, the playoffs, The Finals, and NBA Global Games.

During his tenure, he has helped drive successful technical marketing partnerships with IBM, Dell, Oracle, AT&T, Verizon, Lenovo, HP, Akamai, Cisco, and SAP.

Gliedman started with the NBA in July 1999, when he was hired as Vice President of Information Technology. Prior to joining the NBA, he was the Senior Vice President of Application Development for infoworks, a Viacom technology service supporting MTV Networks, Showtime Networks, and Viacom's corporate division. Before that, he was a Principal with Booz Allen Hamilton, a global strategy and technology consulting firm, where he specialized in developing business and technology solutions for clients in the media and entertainment industry.

Gliedman is a native of New York. He attended Brandeis University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in computer science. He also holds an M.B.A. in marketing from Columbia Business School.

Challenges

Big data and high-quality video are the hallmarks of everything we do. We are constantly hopping between our roles as the archivists of the NBA while satisfying the needs of the mobile user. We are at a very exciting time in the evolution of technology where ubiquitous high-speed networks, cloud and in-memory computing, as examples - are giving us the ability to scale capacity to meet the needs of both sides of our business (i.e., speed-to-market with no impact on quality) without requiring huge up-front capital investments.

360 Degree View of Customers’ Needs

These efforts are big, time-consuming and can cost a great deal if not approached pragmatically and in stages. Spend sufficient time on strategic planning. It’s critically important to work with your business users to secure requirements, map out what they’re hoping to achieve up-front (e.g., additional sales, marketing for your products, market research, identification of new segments of customers, etc.) and set your key performance indicators for each goal so you can measure success before you build anything.

Pain-points

The NBA is a technology-sophisticated organization. Our job is to maintain a computing environment that allows us to maintain some level of centralized infrastructure and governance while allowing employees the freedom to work the way they need to and are accustomed to with the devices and software they are purchasing for their personal needs.

Cyber-security has most definitely gained prominence across our enterprise. People are now much more aware of the pitfalls that can come from not paying enough attention to security. Our leadership is very supportive of our efforts here.

Trends

We are leveraging all of the above at the NBA to bring the best products to a fan base that seems to have a never-ending appetite for stats, data analysis, video and story-telling around our players and our game.

Role of IT and CIO

When I started at the NBA, IT was focused on reacting to issues like email or the internet being down and taking orders for computers. We spent a great deal of effort getting to the heart of our issues, fixing them and improving our outbound communications. Once we got the trains running on-time (and on-budget) we were able to turn our attentions to developing an understanding of the NBA’s business areas and focus on leveraging or developing technology to help solve business problems. Over the years, this strategy has paid off as we are now part of "the conversation" and our role has grown in parallel to the growth of the NBA’s global success.

Advice to CIO

Make sure you have a solid grounding in business fundamentals and make sure to strike the right balance between: being a business partner, someone who works with business leaders to get an understanding of what they will need to grow their businesses regardless of technology; and a technology leader, someone who brings the right technology to the table to address business needs.

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