Steve Langmead: Team effort vital for behind-the-scenes sporting success
IN 2014, the Commonwealth Games will give Scotland a massive opportunity to showcase its strengths on the global stage. Last year's Olympic Games in Beijing created real excitement, as they offered more than four billion people around the world the opportunity to cheer on countrymen vying for the world's greatest sporting crowns.
The games themselves are as old as the hills of Athens, but the business of running the modern Olympics relies on the most sophisticated management and technology in the world. Businesses have a lot to learn from the way the Olympic Games are run and the technology that contributes to their smooth running.
The same will be true when Scotland hosts the Commonwealth Games. On 23 July, 2014, Celtic Park in Glasgow will stage the opening ceremony for the 20th Commonwealth Games ahead of 11 days of high-level sporting competition – and the world will be watching.
In terms of impact, there is no doubt that Scotland will reap economic, social and health legacy benefits, if all goes according to plan.
Managing a project on this scale takes years of planning. Most organisations will say delivering on time and on budget is important to them, but there's nothing like one of the world's biggest and most visible sporting events to focus the mind. Success behind the scenes goes unnoticed, but failure is visible to a global audience. There is no chance of moving back deadlines or breaking the budget. There is only one chance to get it right.
The Commonwealth Games will require organisations to establish effective partnerships, planning together and ensuring flexibility to accommodate change. This will certainly be critical to the success of the IT systems that support the games. Atos Origin, now preparing for our sixth Olympic Games, sees this time and time again as we manage a 3,500-strong team of IT partners, suppliers and volunteers, who must all work together to deliver the best possible service and support to the games.
We also see the longer-term benefits that result from these partnerships. In Beijing, for example, our involvement with the Olympics significantly increased our brand recognition in China, which played a vital role in us securing several major contracts.
Most businesses encounter some element of project management, pulling together a disparate team of partners, suppliers, committees, sponsors and consultants, but few ever do it on the scale of the Commonwealth Games.
For each games, a new "family" is created to ensure the success of the event. Successful management of all these elements is down to clear strategy, leadership, planning and testing. Despite the challenges and associated risks, there is something about major sporting events that drives people to get involved – a feeling of national pride, perhaps, or a sense that they are taking part in a piece of history.
There is no doubt that the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will bring benefits to the whole of Scotland. Organisations should therefore plan ahead and establish partnerships to ensure that we can fully embrace the wealth of opportunities the games will bring. We must work together to take the games and Scotland to the world.
• Steve Langmead is the vice-president – Scotland, Atos Origin, which employs more than 600 people. Atos Origin is the worldwide information technology partner for the Olympic Games.
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