Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Job marries sport and technology

Projects seek to enhance game.
Bill Schlough manages technology strategies for the Giants.
Bill Schlough manages technology strategies for the Giants.

For sports lovers, Bill Schlough has a dream job. For 17 years he has worked with the San Francisco Giants baseball team managing its technology strategies and attending most of the games.

His 5-year-old son has seen more baseball games than most fans would in a lifetime - 170 and counting.

Schlough's passion for his job in the sports world is obvious, but it was not always this way.

He was in Auckland this week as a keynote speaker for the CIO (chief information officer) Summit at the SkyCity Convention Centre.

At high school, Schlough said, sports was just "not his thing".

"I moved around a lot as a kid, all over the US, so I was sent to a high school in Michigan where sports was required, and I was never a great athlete but sports was required just like academics," Schlough said.

"So at first I didn't like it and then I came to appreciate it, that is life. Sports should be required and fitness is part of your life just like academics, work and family."

Schlough continued on to Duke University where he rowed and ski-raced, among other sports. After leaving uni and working at a consultancy firm for a year, he was offered the chance to work with the Fifa World Cup in the US in 1994, and the combination of sports and business continued with other events before he was head-hunted by the Giants.

Schlough's role now encompasses everything from managing the team's online and broadcasting capabilities to helping develop technology to better pick where to post players and where the ball is going to be hit.

The layering of this technology has become a vital part of the game, although Schlough said the league pushed back in some incidents.

Most recently another team, the Dodgers, got into trouble over their use of laser pointers to tell players where to position themselves.

Although pushing the boundaries, this is the kind of thing all teams are trying to do behind the scenes, in using technology to get an edge.

His one piece of advice?

"Kick ass at everything you do because you never know who's going to be watching and when there's a moment that is going to be totally transformational."

CIO Award winners

• Emerging ICT leader: Mike Jenkins, The Instillery.

• Engaging youth in ICT: The Mind Lab by Unitec.

• Best ICT team culture: Westpac New Zealand.

• Executive team of the year: New Zealand Transport Agency.

• CIO of the year: Winston Fong, (pictured) Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

• Outstanding contribution to technology in New Zealand: Wayne Norrie.

- NZ Herald

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