Wearables become fashionable in sports



Teams and athletes turn to IoT to gain an edge



As the most talented football players across the globe competed in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, it wasn’t only their skills, fitness, teamwork and strategy that made the difference. Winners and losers were also decided, in part, by the captured data each individual player produced and how teams leveraged that data to their advantage.

As my companion article explains, data & analytics (D&A) has long played a role in sports. Over the last 15 years or so, predictive insights have increasingly made their way onto fields, courts, greens and more, shaping how managers, coaches and players plan, train and even make game-time decisions.

But this year’s World Cup—with is billions of global viewers—offered a grand stage to show off advances in D&A, fueled by the growing power of “wearables.”  Wearables—types of IoT (Internet of Things) devices—are worn by the players to gather biometric data while they train and compete. 2018 marked the first World Cup in which FIFA allowed teams to use wearables during games. These novel player tracking systems are increasingly common in professional sports, and even among amateur fitness enthusiasts. Embedded into arm bands and other accessories, wearables use various technologies to monitor players’ location, speed, acceleration, fitness, workload, fatigue, heart rate and more. 

Data from wearables vastly increases the amount of information available to coaches, trainers and match analysts. Meanwhile, advances in data integration, analytics, and visualization tools are greatly streamlining the process of turning data into actionable insights. This means the team’s staff—equipped with tablets loaded with special video streaming software and data dashboards—can now get instant feedback on player performance and team positioning right on the sidelines, helping them know who and when to substitute, or even how to change the team’s overall game strategy or style of play to outmaneuver a specific opponent.

Individual players are also embracing wearables. Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal recently endorsed a sleep-tracking app which analyzes his sleep patterns and breathing and body movement during sleep to improve his rest and recovery—and ideally his on-field performance1.

The advent of wearables has applications in other sectors like medical/healthcare as well as industries that utilize large labor forces like manufacturing, construction, and agriculture. In fact, IoT is the top technology expected to drive business transformation over the next three years and drive the greatest benefit to life, society, and the environment.


A common concern with IoT devices is, of course, cybersecurity. The typical enterprise has massive amounts of confidential data traversing the on-premise as well as off-premise IT ecosystem. And in this scenario, the data is even more sensitive since it is truly personal in nature. However, cybersecurity is at the top of executives’ agendas. According to KPMG’s recent Technology Industry CEO Outlook, the majority of tech CEOs believe that protecting customer data is one of their most important responsibilities and almost half agree that a strong cyber strategy is critical to engendering trust.  


As we evolve into a networked society, enterprises need to address the evolution of IoT. This evolution requires new levels of awareness and responsibility, as well as support and governance from senior management. KPMG’s reports, Risk or reward: What lurks within your IoT?, and Enduring the IoT storm to unlock new paths to value, extend the dialogue and explore the issues surrounding IoT security.

I encourage you to read them to gain insights on how business leaders, IT and security teams should collaborate to protect enterprises from adverse threats.

Some or all of the services described herein may not be permissible for KPMG audit clients and their affiliates or related entities.

1 Cristiano Ronaldo Backs SleepScore Labs’ New Mobile Sleep Tracker App (Sporttechie.com, June 18, 2018)



Related content

How technology and sport changes the world

Read more

After the Winter Olympics, where does 5G go next?

Read more

Technology and the world's biggest stages

Read more

Tim Zanni

Tim Zanni

Global and U.S. Technology Sector Leader, KPMG US

+1 408-367-4100

The pinnacle of sport if driving the promise of AI

Read more


Data & analytics technology scores big in sports

Read more