Things were a bit more straightforward in the 80s. The Champions League (then European Cup) only comprised of champions, and players like Adams, Gascoigne, and Maradona enjoyed great success despite their somewhat cultured off-the-field activities.
Away from the football pitch, information technology (IT) was in its infancy but growing year-on-year. The first IBM computer was unveiled in 1981, Apple’s 1983 Lisa (which paved the way for the iconic Mac) delivered the first graphical user interface (GUI), and Microsoft first unveiled Windows in 1985.
But despite this, the average business owner could go about their daily work without IT. Commercial use of the internet was virtually non-existent and automation of processes was still in its infancy.
The World Wide Web, Wenger, and the Mars Bar Revolt
1991 – the year that most ‘real’ fans recall as the year that Sky invented football – was also a defining moment for IT. Tim Berners Lee, a scientist at CERN, released the World Wide Web to the general public. Demonstrating that anybody could develop what we now understand as a website, Lee’s creation accelerated the information age and, arguably, gave rise of e-commerce when internet access became available for commercial purposes in 1995. A little-known startup named Amazon formed in that same year…
Meanwhile, a slight, spectacled Frenchman named Arsene Wenger joined Arsenal in 1996, changing English football forever. The now infamous Mars Bars revolt, before Wenger’s first match, in which his players were denied the customary pre-match chocolate bar, set the tone.
Encouraging Tony Adams to overcome his well-documented alcoholism and introducing a scientific approach to player diet and training, Wenger’s then-unorthodox methods (building upon George Graham’s back four) led Arsenal to a domestic cup Double in his first season.
Mirroring Wenger’s success, Apple released the first ever iMac, the ‘gold standard of desktop computing’, and a game changer for the IT industry. Business owners and footballers therefore had to change the way they approached their respective professions in order to succeed.
Broadband and the Information Age
The millennium brought about a brave new world for information technology. Broadband increased connection speed and, for the first time, allowed for telephones and the internet to be used concurrently. With the World Wide Web firmly established, the 2000s saw the rise of industry giants such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Using the web for commercial purposes was not just viable – it was essential.
However, the increasing benefits reaped by businesses also carved open a new lucrative market – cyber-crime. In 2000, a 15-year-old named Michael Calce executed a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against Amazon, CNN, Yahoo!, and eBay, causing an estimated $1.7bn worth of damage.
Whilst hacks were primarily against large corporations and governmental bodies, the turn of the century signalled an increased responsibility for online businesses to properly safeguard against cyber-attacks. As the digital economy grew, hackers were growing with it.
The Internet of Things, WannaCry, and Ronaldo’s Chef
Modern-day sport is increasingly professionalised and almost unrecognisable from even 20 years before. Advancements in sports science and enormous investment in staff and facilities have grown the game. Players and teams are putting an increased emphasis on individual responsibility, ensuring they are ahead of their playing rivals.
Cristiano Ronaldo exemplifies this. If you ask any of his team-mates what makes him great, it’s not just natural ability – it’s a commitment to making himself better than his opponents.
‘He was the first person I saw employing a nutritionist, a doctor, a personal physio, a chef… …They came and lived in his house more or less, he lived a couple of doors up from me,’ ex-Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand revealed.
The same must be done with cyber security – cyber-crime is on the rise, but cyber security companies are rising to the challenge to help business’ combat this threat. Whether your business is micro, small, medium, or large – contemporary cyber-crime is indiscriminate.
2015, for example was a particularly bad year for cyber-crime. 90% of large organisations in the UK suffered a data breach, along with 74% of SMEs, and the average cost of cyber-attacks more than doubled to £1.46m.
The 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack, which devastated the NHS and other organisations all over the world, brought cyber security into the public consciousness. And with superfast 5G mobile broadband and the internet of things (IoT) promising enormous benefits, larger risks loom on the horizon.
We now live in a world powered by the Web. The digital economy powers businesses of all sizes, relying heavily on internet banking, web-based POS systems, instant messaging, accounting software like QuickBooks, and social media. Sports stars’ boozy careers in the late 80s and early 90s is not sustainable in the modern game. Nor is an archaic approach to your business’ cyber security in the digital age. To neglect it is to gamble with your business’ future.
Are you prepared?