The 2010 FIFA World Cup begins today in South Africa – not that you could miss it with the blanket coverage across all media outlets. The tournament covers 32 teams, 64 matches, in 10 stadia, watched by 3.7 million spectators, as well as a worldwide TV audience measured in the billions. As a football fan I will be captivated with the spectacle and gripped by the drama as it unfolds in what has been described as the biggest show on earth. Magic indeed.

But, although the FIFA World Cup is large, it is certainly not the biggest show on earth. That title, as a sporting event, undoubtably goes to the Olympic Games. A simple comparison of the numbers involved explains the diffences between the 2010 South Africa FIFA World Cup and the London 2012 Olympic Games – 776 footballers (32 teams x 23 players each) versus 14,000 athletes, 11 stadia versus 94 venues, 32 teams versus 205 countries, 3.7 million spectators versus 10 million, etc., etc. In short, the London 2012 Olympic Games will be an order of magnitude bigger.

Most of us enjoy the spectacle, whether it is the World Cup or the Olympic Games (or both in my case). But bringing this spectacle to the billions of us watching from afar, the spectators in the stadia, and the paticipants is as much an information and communcations technology (ICT) challenge as any other. For example, the Games Management System (GMS) that will orchestrate the participants, events, and scoring is a mix of information technology (IT) and communications platforms and infrastructure. For this reason, we are writing a series of articles on the lead up to London 2012 to illustrate what enterprises can learn from this huge sporting event. The point is that ICT is as critical to the Olympic Games as it is to all enterprises (large and small).

So far we have published two articles in relation to London 2012 – Lessons In Planning The Biggest Show On Earth and London 2012: Athletes And New Services Will Push The Boundaries, Not The Underlying Technologies. Watch out for more to come. So when the winning goal is scored in Johannesburg on July 11 it will be brought to you by a complex ICT solution. As for which team will prevail in South Africa, I hope it is my country (England) but believe the winners will be wearing orange (and I mean Holland not the Ivory Coast).

As ever, I'd be happy to continue the dialog.