Beijing 2022: Driving innovation for Olympic information and knowledge management

21 Apr 2021

In conversation: Chris Payne, the IOC’s IKL Associate Director, and Yan Cheng, Director General of the HR Department and Head of the IKM team at Beijing 2022, exchange thoughts about the OCOG’s innovative online Olympic learning platform (IKM platform). In response to the COVID-19 challenge, Beijing 2022 reformed its information and knowledge management by applying digital tools with new technology features to interact with the Olympic audience. 

Chris: Olympic Agenda 2020+5, adopted at the 137th IOC Session last month, is promoting reform and innovation within the Olympic Movement, and one of the 15 recommendations that makes up the agenda is to “grow digital engagement with people”. So, what’s your take on this?

Yan: When the IOC adopted Olympic Agenda 2020 in 2014, it did so under the adage of “change or be changed”, which is still true. The world around us is in constant change, and big data and internet technologies are profoundly changing the way we work and live. At a time when COVID-19 is impacting economic and social development and challenging the Olympic Movement, we won’t stay strong unless we strive to adjust and adapt. The Olympic Games have both uniqueness and universality. While observing social distancing, we need to apply new technologies to build a platform for Olympic information and technology communications, to spread the Olympic spirit and culture among more people. Without a doubt, as digital tools are made easily accessible to us nowadays, digitally engaging with the audience is an innovative and efficient new way of expanding the coverage of and participation in the Olympic Movement.

Chris: The IKL team is excited to hear that Beijing 2022 has become the first OCOG to introduce an IKM extranet. It is something that requires perseverance and, more importantly, vision and determination, isn’t it?

Yan: With the support of the IOC’s IKL team, after more than five months of hard work, the platform went online (education.beijing2022.cn) on 1 February 2021. It is a new solution with which we can overcome the negative impacts of the pandemic and promote winter Olympic knowledge with information technologies.

As an integrated source of Olympic information and knowledge management, the IKM platform features information and knowledge related to the preparations of Beijing 2022 from the past five years, and brings together valuable case studies and videos about the Games preparations of past OCOGs. Some non-confidential information and knowledge are shared to the public via the IKM platform. The platform is now loaded with hundreds of videos and documents. It has customised learning lists for different types of audiences, searching and online testing functions, and a mobile version (app). Audiences can log onto the platform anytime and anywhere.

The platform has made information, communication and learning much more efficient. We will keep adding content to maximise its value. And, after the Games, we plan to pass on to the IOC the platform’s information and knowledge.

Chris: You know, I have WeChat, which is a very popular app in China, downloaded on my mobile phone. Just a couple of weeks ago, I recognised that a mini app – “Winter Olympics Learning” – was launched based on WeChat. I may speak very poor Chinese, but I can still learn something about the Olympic Winter Games from those interesting animation courses. It really is so much fun.

Yan: Promoting Olympic knowledge on social media is the most cost-effective and influential way of organising learning and training. When we built the platform in August 2020, we were cooperating with an official OCOG supplier to develop the mini app.

The mini app targets the public and especially teenagers in China. Not only does it offer modules that are updated on a regular basis and viewed by many people, such as the “Open Winter Olympic Courses” and “Live Streaming Classroom”, but it also provides animations and puzzles to engage people to learn and compete. We also have an incentives system. Users can earn credits by learning content and trade their credits for licensed Beijing 2022 products. The mini app is open to everyone, and now has hundreds of thousands of users. Beijing 2022 worked with our official supplier in developing and operating the mini app, and it was encouraged to adopt a non-profit operation model to promote the Winter Olympics to the public.

Chris: Not long ago, I received one of the “Open Winter Olympic Courses” from your IKM team. I heard that a number of people renowned in China’s film, TV, sports and cultural circles had been invited to produce a series of videos related to the Olympic Winter Games. I heard that over 70 million people had viewed it, which is remarkable. Tell me more about this!

Yan: The “Open Winter Olympic Courses” are a digital knowledge-based product with video content. We invited athletes, actors and actresses, and experts and scholars to talk about the Olympic Winter Games in an interesting story-telling way.

The “Open Winter Olympic Courses” comprise five episodes, with each coming online on a weekly basis and lasting about 10 minutes. Linking to the five Olympic rings, the five episodes are dedicated to five different aspects: the evolution of China’s ice and snow sports, ice sports, snow sports, technology and sustainability, and Olympic culture. Each episode was released on more than 400 online media outlets, reaching a significant audience and receiving much praise from the public.

This is really something that is strongly inspiring and appealing. Lots of people commented online to express their satisfaction. “I was drawn to it the first time I saw it, and you wouldn’t forget it after watching,” said one user.

Chris: Beijing 2022 has played an exemplary role in terms of applying digitalisation to achieve knowledge diffusion, which conforms to the requirement of prioritising simplicity, safety and excellence in the Games preparations. How do you see the future?

Yan: We have given a name to the IKM platform, the mini app and the “Open Winter Olympic Courses”: “Winter Olympics Online Learning”, integrating digital tools with high-quality content. This is what we need to do if we want to bring changes to information management and training. We believe that, guided by Olympic Agenda 2020+5, Beijing 2022 will advance more steadily and swiftly in the lead-up to fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Games.

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