Giants CIO: Our BYOD Network Helped Us Win the World Series

Can a good BYOD plan help you win the World Series? Maybe not, but the idea that it could was behind an entertaining story told by Bill Schlough, CIO of the world champion San Francisco Giants.

While Schlough's circular logic on BYOD and baseball may be more fun than fact, what is undeniable is the team's enthusiastic embrace of the idea that its fans want to connect their wireless devices while at a baseball game. At the CITE Conference + Expo this week Schlough told the audience that the Giants are continually doing all they can to improve the wireless network at their stadium, a devotion to customers that seems to pay dividends. Do you have the same devotion to your wireless users? Are you doing all you can to make their lives easier? If not is there really any wonder why you're not winning the championship in whatever arena you compete in?

When it comes to BYOD Schlough and the Giants have a much different problem with scale than most. On any given night at AT&T Park some 12,000 of the regular 41,000 fans in attendance will use the Giants' robust Wi-Fi network. In operation since the 2004 season, the Wi-Fi network now has 821 access points scattered throughout the seats and walkways; the Giants and AT&T have also beefed up the cellular network with an in-stadium DAS (distributed antenna system) with an additional 121 antennas. Unofficially, it's the best ballpark network anywhere. But Schlough isn't one to rest on laurels.

On pure chance I happened to go to the Giants' 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night, and tested the networks for myself. My unofficial results were download speeds of 25 Mbps on the AT&T 4G LTE cellular network, and between 5-6 Mbps download speeds on the Giants' Wi-Fi network. But while my results were off the charts, one attendee at the CITE conference complained to Schlough about poor reception at his seats. Schlough, unlike many conference big-name speakers, not only addressed the question during the end of his talk, but stayed in the room afterwards to answer the fan's concerns personally. His honest answer -- the section where the fan had seats was among the poorer reception spots -- showed a level of devotion and honesty that probably is unique among top CIOs.

Schlough's BYOD-to-victory story revolved around the Giants using an in-park promotion to entice fans to vote for Giants players for last year's All-Star game. After a three-game homestand produced hundreds of thousands of votes for several Giants players, getting them into the All-Star game, some around baseball cried foul, saying the Giants unduly influenced the voting.

Schlough maintains all the procedures were legal under MLB All-Star voting rules; the Giants merely used the power of their in-stadium network to help fans vote more easily. At the All-Star game, Giant third baseman Pablo Sandoval hit a bases-loaded triple, and then-Giant Melky Cabrera hit a home run and was voted the game's MVP, helping the National League team win. That gave the Giants home-field advantage in the World Series, so by Schlough's roundabout logic the fans helped the Giants win the Series by using the Wi-Fi network to vote for Giants as All-Stars.

Whether or not you believe the story's conclusions is one thing. Schlough and the Giants' devotion to serving their customers' mobile needs, however, is a fact.

Photo credit: CITE Conference Flickr stream

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