Sports Business

New Zealand Rugby’s digital transformation kicked on by SAP

NEW ZEALAND Rugby (NZR) has announced a major multi-year partnership with SAP to power and accelerate the rugby union’s digital transformation across all areas of its business.

SAP, which is NZR’s first major technology partner, becomes an Official Premium Global Partner, Official Technology Partner and the Official Cloud Software Partner to the Teams in Black, including the All Blacks and Black Ferns.

The two organisations will collaborate to identify and implement innovative ‘cloud’ solutions from SAP and connect data across key areas of the business to provide a competitive advantage on and off the field for the ‘teams in black’ and NZR’s wider rugby ecosystem.

The partnership will see NZR leverage SAP solutions and co-innovate across four key areas including creating an integrated management system to run and enhance its operations; elevating the fan experience; enabling the organisation’s sustainability goals; and exploring how the use of data and solutions can support team performance. 

“NZR is undertaking a large digital transformation which really needs the support and expertise of a global technology organisation to help us achieve our vision of becoming the most technologically advanced rugby union in the world,” NZR chief information and technology officer, Angela Nash said.

“SAP is at the forefront of digital enablement globally and have the tools to help us build a team of experts that not only share our vision but are world class in their skills and capabilities.

“It is great to have them on board as our first technology partner, working with NZR across all key platforms to review, enhance and enable us to provide technology systems that ensure we are the best both on and off the field,” Ms Nash said.

SAP executive board member for customer success, Scott Russell said, “New Zealand Rugby has set an ambitious goal of becoming the most technologically advanced rugby union in the world. As the organisation’s first-ever technology partner, SAP can help NZR meet this goal by driving digital transformation across all areas of the business and introducing game-changing technologies that will help NZR teams run at their best – and win.”

SAP and NZR will also place emphasis on developing additional programs and initiatives that promote and celebrate diversity and inclusion.

Through the partnership, SAP will receive various rights and benefits including branding and signage in-stadium and on-field for NZR managed matches, branding across all digital platforms, player appearances and exclusive team and player experiences.

NZR’s Teams in Black are the All Blacks, Black Ferns, All Blacks Sevens, Black Ferns Sevens, Māori All Blacks, All Blacks XV and All Blacks Under-20.


        Organisational Operations: Using a digital hub of SAP solutions to create interconnected systems will allow NZR to leverage the power of its off-field systems and data to better support on-field teams.

        Team Performance: By implementing SAP SuccessFactors and establishing a single source of HR data, NZR intends to elevate the employee experience and empower employees to achieve their full potential.

        Fan Experience: Create new ways to connect and engage with NZR’s local and global fan base while also tapping into new technologies and platforms that enable fans to get closer to their favourite teams and players. 

        Sustainability: Leverage digital solutions and capabilities that enable NZR to holistically manage its sustainability performance, while supporting NZR’s broader Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) Strategy where needed.



Cricket Australia uses Microsoft Viva ‘data power’ to improve employee experiences – and the game itself

CRICKET Australia has known for a long time that delivering a great cricket experience for players and fans is inextricably linked to ensuring the wellbeing of its staff.

Looking for better ways to do that – and measure results – Cricket Australia has turned to Microsoft Viva Insights to help empower employees to take ‘a moment for mindfulness’ to prevent burnout.

While the Australian public sees cricket come to the fore in summer – with big events such as the Boxing Day Test drawing huge public attention – for those working behind the scenes to bring the game to life locally and overseas, cricket runs all year round. This can prove challenging to many staff who have to meet high expectations on a constant basis. 

According to Cricket Australia senior client services manager, Emma Cashen, in delivering a great experience for players and fans, staff have to remain passionate about what they do.

“So, our employee experience at all levels and in all interactions nationally is really important to us,” Ms Cashen said. “It’s about putting our employees first to deliver the best outcomes.”

Like all professional sports, COVID-19 had a big impact on how cricket was played. Border closures and venue restrictions resulted in a lot of matches being rescheduled or cancelled.

Cricket Australia staff could not travel as often as they used to, or work from headquarters, and the organisation was also forced to reduce its headcount.

While conducting quarterly employee engagement surveys during the pandemic, Cricket Australia found that all of this was taking a toll on staff.

“Quite often, people feel tired and overworked, and the commute to and from the office that no longer exists had blurred the lines between their home life and their work life,” Ms Cashen said. “It was this tired workforce that was potentially going into a planning season and feeling under-resourced.

“What the surveys indicated was that the workforce had their busy periods at different times of the year. Some were busy during a cricket season, others were busy in what is [traditionally] the off-season.

“We wanted to better understand what groups were going to be impacted at what point during the year. So, it was about how we use data from our engagement surveys to make sure we’re putting an action plan in place to try and protect those employees from those situations.”

A new partnership at the crease

Cricket Australia teamed up with Microsoft partner Engage Squared in September 2021 to deploy Viva Insights, a module of the employee experience platform Microsoft Viva.

Powered by Microsoft Office 365 and experienced through Microsoft Teams – which Cricket Australia was already using – Viva Insights enabled the organisation to identify groups of unidentified people who were feeling overworked and were working longer hours. 

“Interestingly, our data shows that it’s our senior managers and above who were working longer hours and potentially looking to burn out,” Ms Cashen said. “With this insight we can encourage them to take their own advice and take breaks where they can.

“What we learned is to lead by example and, when they’re taking leave or switching off to do that, it also empowers their staff to do the same. We’ve seen a big shift in them going offline and delegating somebody else to be acting in their role.”

Cricket Australia is also looking to educate staff on how to view their insights at individual and team levels, and then take action based on the data-driven recommendations from Viva Insights.

“What we’re finding is people are always available just because we’re working flexibly at any time of the day. This means people don’t know that boundary anymore, so we want to help them create those boundaries at an individual level,” Ms Cashen said.

“Getting a reminder to take a moment and really have that mindfulness opportunity within Viva Insights is amazing to see. As an organisation, we’re supportive of people taking a moment.

“I couldn’t recommend the Virtual Commute feature more, because it’s so easy to blur your day, and this allows you to disconnect.”

Recognising team play

Ms Cashen said the Praise feature was also popular among Cricket Australia employees. They used it to recognise the contributions of co-workers, either in a private chat or a Teams channel conversation.

Looking forward, the organisation wants to integrate its engagement survey results, which are currently run through Culture Amp, into Viva Insights.

“The idea then is we can really start to see the correlation between how people are behaving on a regular basis and the end result of our engagement surveys. We can see if there are any similarities as we go into our action plans,” Ms Cashen said.

Cricket Australia will also focus on broadening the insights to the state cricket associations to deploy Viva Insights so that it can integrate their data and insights, giving “an Australian cricket-wide view rather than a Cricket Australia-only view”.

“I can see some of the state associations jumping on board really quickly,” Ms Cashen said. “They’ve got a big focus on their data as well for employee experience, and insights and employee engagement are part of their strategy planning.”

Adding more Viva modules to the line-up

Cricket Australia plans to deploy other modules as part of the Viva suite, such as Viva Connections and Viva Learning, to further enhance the employee experience.

“Viva Learning would be an easy one to roll out next if we wanted to. We have LinkedIn Learning, which we can embed in Viva Learning,” Ms Cashen said.

“But I think Viva Connections is going to be the biggest game changer for us. We have an intranet and an enterprise social media platform in place however they are standalone and they won’t work in the flow of your work.

“Bringing them into Connections makes total sense. It gives the organisation the ability to have a really clear communication channel and reach their staff when they need to.”

Ms Cashen said Cricket Australia was also keen to explore how it could leverage the Viva suite and Teams to bring everything together in a central location.

“We’ve got a high adoption rate for Teams, so it makes sense to bring everything into that platform and really centralise all other experiences,” she said.


Fitness Australia moves step closer to 'allied health' with Bupa arrangement 

IN A MAJOR step forward in the fitness industry’s alignment with 'allied health', Fitness Australia has today announced a milestone provider arrangement with health fund provider, Bupa, which will allow eligible health fund customers on selected products to claim towards the cost of gym and personal training fees.

There will be annual limits on claims, which will become available when a person's exercise program is designed to address or improve a specific diagnosed health or medical condition -- for example, diabetes -- and their health professional recommends exercise. 

Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish said the arrangement with Bupa would enable personal trainers and businesses who are registered with Fitness Australia to become a Bupa Recognised Provider, elevating their position as a vital health and fitness professional. 

“Today’s announcement is a huge step forward for our industry. Over the past 12 to 18 months, we have been working hard to strengthen the industry’s credibility and become more aligned as an allied health service provider,” Mr Elvish said.  

“During the pandemic, the importance of regular exercise and access to a personal trainer or gym has been consistently communicated by governments, health professionals, fitness experts and our industry. The role physical activity has not only on mental health and wellbeing, but also assisting with lifestyle related diseases and conditions, cannot be underestimated. 

“The provider arrangement with Bupa will see all Fitness Australia registered businesses and AusREPs who meet Bupa’s requirements become Bupa Recognised Providers, meaning gym members and PT clients who meet their Bupa’s eligibility requirements can claim a benefit toward the cost of their training or membership with those providers.” 

Bupa corporate CVP manager, Erin Fullarton said the new arrangement was a value-add for the industry and an initiative that will be well received by customers. 

“We’re delighted about introducing these new value-adds for personal training and gym memberships to our Corporate Extras product. We know this will resonate really well with our customers,” Ms Fullarton said. 

For Bupa members to claim a benefit towards their gym or personal training, a health professional such as a GP, medical specialist or exercise physiologist must complete and sign a Health Management Gym and PT Medical Form on the Bupa member’s behalf.  

Bupa will then pay benefits to its customers on eligible products towards the service delivered by  Bupa-recognised gyms and personal training providers, subject to yearly limits, waiting periods, fund and policy rules. 

Personal trainers who have full membership with Fitness Australia will need to get in touch with Fitness Australia to become registered as a Bupa Recognised Provider.

Gyms and fitness facilities registered with Fitness Australia will automatically become a Bupa Recognised Provider provided that they meet Bupa’s recognition criteria, available online at For Providers of Other Services - Bupa.  

Gym and personal training benefits currently only apply to selected Bupa products. Bupa customers can check their eligibility to claim through MyBupa. 

Fitness Australia information:

Bupa customer information:

Personal trainers information:



Brisbane Bullets on target with Supply Aus

THE Brisbane Bullets National Basketball League club has announced a new two-year partnership with Indigenous-owned company Supply Aus.

“We are excited to welcome Supply Aus to the Bullets family,” Brisbane Bullets CEO Peter McLennan said.

“CEO Adam Williams and the team at Supply Aus have enjoyed incredible growth and we are looking forward to working with them to continue that journey.

“It is a challenging time with so many moving pieces. Our focus and commitment to all of our partners has only increased during this time. Our clear goals are to align with our partners to continue their business growth and I’m excited to see where our new partnership with Supply Aus will take us,” Mr McLennan said.  

“Last season the NBL staged its inaugural Indigenous Round and has established a working group to formulate a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

“As a club we are very supportive of this program and are excited to have added Tamuri Wigness to our roster for this season. Tamuri is a proud young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and a player with an exciting future.

“He joins training player Verle Williams Jr; a proud Yuggera man, which is the country the Bullets play on.”  

Supply Aus is a 100 percent Indigenous owned company that delivers a range of high-quality industry leading products and services including personal protective equipment, workwear, uniform, medical consumables, office supplies and coffee.

Supply Aus CEO Adam Williams, a proud Wiradjuri man, said sponsoring the Brisbane Bullets was an exciting opportunity to support the team while celebrating the success of Indigenous business in the sport’s arena.

“We love how the team has engaged talented Indigenous players on their roster, and we look forward to seeing the ongoing growth and acceptance of diversity,” Mr Williams said.

“This sponsorship represents Supply Aus’ growth and how Indigenous business is needed and valued in Australia. We hope to inspire other Indigenous businesses in their journey and how they can be successful and enjoy exposure at a national level.”

Mr Williams said Supply Aus was driven by a collective commitment to social investment and empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people towards self-determination.

Supply Aus has joined the Brisbane Bullets as a major support partner and the logo will be displayed on the back of the Bullets’ playing shorts during all games of the next two Hungry Jack’s NBL seasons.

Pictured at the sponsorship announcement are (from left) Supply Aus CEO Adam Williams, Brisbane Bullets player Tamuri Wigness and Brisbane Bullets CEO Peter McLennan. 



Table Tennis Corporate Cup to relaunch in November

AFTER A NINE month hiatus, Table Tennis Australia (TTA) is relauncing its corporate wellness program, the Table Tennis Corporate Cup.

The Table Tennis Corporate Cup was developed for businesses and organisations across the country to engage employees, build employee communication while also providing strong corporate health and wellbeing benefits. 

The Corporate Cup was initially launched in 2019 and garnered immediate success with more than 250 companies in Sydney and Melbourne registering their interest upon launch.  More than 1000 participants took part in the events, and almost 2,500 table tennis matches were recorded through TTA’s results software in two weeks.

While more than 50 companies, including Google and PwC had signed up in March for the first round of this year’s Cup, the event came to a halt when Covid-19 forced community sports and workplaces to put operations on hold.

With restrictions easing off in most parts of Australia, Table Tennis Australia has worked hard to adapt the program to ensure its safety, and TTA president Graham Symonhas said he was "excited to spread the benefits of the sport to corporate companies once again".

“There’s no doubt that this year has been challenging for everyone, including corporate workers who have had to find new ways to connect with their colleagues, while battling isolation in their homes,” Mr Symons said. 

“We hope the Table Tennis Corporate Cup will help colleagues celebrate reconnecting with each other safely, while also having fun with a bit of friendly rivalry.”

Echoing the words of Mr Symons, TTA Corporate Cup program manager Patrick Wuertz said, “We listened closely to our corporate community and we’re proud to present a fresh and easy to use program, so companies can engage with their staff, and build great corporate culture within their organisations.

“Now more than ever, it’s time for businesses to engage with their teams and boost a positive work culture, and there is no better way to do this than through a social but fierce ping pong match.

“We had nearly 400 participants sign up to our first round at the beginning of the year, and we’re looking forward to seeing the Table Tennis Corporate Cup spread the physical and social benefits to more people as corporate communities come together again.”

Table Tennis Australia is urging companies to sign up now, ahead of the finals in Adelaide and Brisbane later this year. TTA will also be introducing a Corporate Cup event in Darwin, with mainly SMEs participating.

In addition, TTA will host a free online event with corporate speakers. All events will take place under a strict COVID Safe plan taking local restrictions and requirements into consideration.

Table Tennis Corporate Cup Finals dates:

  • Brisbane Corporate Cup Final – November 6
  • Adelaide Corporate Cup Final – November 30
  • Darwin Table Tennis Corporate Cup Round – October 19 - November 22
  • Live webinar – November 10

Table Tennis Corporate Cup is on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.




OneFitStop: tech helps gyms, trainers overcome pandemic disruption

By Leon Gettler >>

ONEFITSTOP could provide a real solution for gyms in the age of pandemics.

OneFitStop is a software-as-a-solution (SaaS) platform working with fitness outlets around the world to empower their management, taking care of the scheduling, booking, payments, marketing and reporting tools. It can cover anything from small gyms, to yoga and pilates outlets, to multi-location franchise gyms.

The software solution allows operators to bill weekly or monthly, provide clients with access to classes, access to general check-in and personal training services.

Clients can download the app, with the business branded name, from the App Store. This allows them to book into classes or book private training. They can also sign up as members, even get gift cards and promo codes. 

Jarron Aizen, the founder and CEO of OneFitStop said in dealing with COVID-19, operators had been building in digital content such as video streaming, articles, blogs, and recipes, to engage with their audience from a digital landscape.


The OneFitStop platform assists gyms to go completely digital, if they choose, potentially broadcasting to clients internationally.

“What we’ve seen is that, in the fitness industry over COVID, what’s happened is some facilities have gone to third party systems to some streaming – like they’ve just used Zoom – and others have not done anything and just shut their doors. So what we did was build all these tools inside the app,” Mr Aizen told Talking Business.

“For example, they can access all the streaming in the app directly. They already had this on their phone and you can do all the content in your phone directly, for example, and do all your pilates classes from home and even Chrome cast it to the TC easily,” he said.

Mr Aizen said OneFitStop allows operators to integrate their operations with Zoom, with unique Zoom meeting IDs for each class, and send the links out automatically.

OneFitStop has also built a broadcast tool, with high quality video broadcasts and multi-camera inputs and audio feeds, creating a high end production

“Some of our brands have gone along with that when they want to produce top-notch, top-quality content,” he said.


Mr Aizen said this would allow fitness outlets to build global markets, if they wanted to.

“Our brands, when they are starting to open up again, some of them are installing cameras in the studio live," he said. "They’re going to run in-club classes and stream it digitally to the world, and they’re going to try and sell those digital memberships outside of the four walls of the suburbs they operate in to all other countries.”

“We’ve seen them sell ready memberships in London, in the US, from Australia.” 

OneFitStop operates out of Australia, the US and right through the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. Its offices in America also service Europe.

Mr Aizen said the beauty of the digital world is it “allows some operators to go global with some businesses completely pivoting and others adopting a hybrid model with customers coming from all over the world”.

The company had been working on the technology for some time and had launched the first digital modules in December last year.

“We actually had the foundations of the technology ready built which was great because when COVID hit, we literally went full steam, all engineers on additional digital engagement modules and we were able to release it very quickly to the market place because we had already done all the basic work behind it all,” Mr Aizen said.

OneFitStop has also had to train fitness operators on how to use the technology.

“It’s added challenges to our operations, but certainly, when we see the end products, it’s incredibly rewarding because in many cases, it’s a saviour to these businesses at this time as well,” Mr Aizen said.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at  


Fit for nothing as COVID-19 takes its toll

THE ECONOMIC and social impact of COVID-19 related closures have been felt hard by the fitness industry, right across Australia.

Fitness Australia has released an industry impacts report detailing the devastating effect of gym shutdowns from March 23.

The COVID-19 Fitness Industry Impact Report lays bare the financial, social and economic impact suffered by the $3 billion a year industry that employs more than 35,000 people across more than 6,426 businesses, according to Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish.

Mr Elvish said while the industry was supportive of the government measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, gym closures resulted in the mothballing of thousands of businesses.   

“Australians spend more than $8.5 billion every year on fitness and a large portion of this is spend on gym memberships, personal training, fitness classes and bootcamps,” he said.

“The closures, which affected all types gyms and fitness facilities, and shortly after outdoor bootcamps, meant these businesses had suffered significantly.

“The safety of the community comes first but the impact has been devastating for the fitness industry. Our report shows this impact has been felt by everyone from personal trainers and sole operators right through to the large gym franchises – no one is unaffected.” 


The COVID-19 Fitness Industry Impact Report surveyed a broad snapshot of the industry including exercise professionals and sole traders, through to boutique businesses and multi-service facilities. 

Fitness Australia’s analysis of exercise professionals and sole traders surveyed found: 81 percent has lost their job or main source of income; 71 percent had not had a single client since gyms closed on March 23, 2020; 44 percent of respondents has lost more than 61 percent of their income; 90 percent are continuing to pay up to $5,000 a month for business expenses despite not operating; less than 10 percent of clients had transitioned to virtual platforms or one-on-one training. 

Fitness Australia’s analysis of boutique businesses and multi-service facilities surveyed found: All businesses have had to stand down employees with less than 10 percent of staff still working; 70 percent of businesses cited a 100 percent decline in memberships; 24 percent of businesses reported a 61 percent decline in memberships due to cancellations or suspensions; revenue was down 100 per cent for 50% of gym owners; gyms have only been able to generate less than 10 percent of their usual income through virtual or outdoor one-on-one training. 


Mr Elvish said the industry was willing to do “whatever it takes” to get gyms reopened safely as soon as possible – both from an economic and overall wellbeing perspective.

“The industry is committed and onboard to do whatever is needed to reopen,” Mr Elvish said.  “We all want to ensure gym members and employees have the peace of mind to safely return to the gym, do a workout or take part in a group glass.

“Fitness Australia has prepared a draft reopening framework to ensure gyms can reopen safely as soon as possible. This is currently with all state and territory health departments for consideration.

“It was very encouraging to see the NT government include the staged reopening of gyms in their announcement yesterday,” he said.

“In addition to the financial benefits of getting gyms reopened, the role exercise plays in our overall health and mental wellbeing cannot be underestimated and it will become more apparent as restrictions are eased back.

“Gyms and the broader fitness industry will have a vital role in ensuring the ongoing health and wellbeing of Australians during and following COVID-19.”

Download the COVID-19 Fitness Industry Impact Report.


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