Global Sports Management Software Replaces In-House Messaging with Stream Chat
Challenge: Teamworks needed to upgrade its in-house messaging solution to better serve international customers and reduce engineering costs and the burden on customer support.
Strategy: From the first sales call, it was clear to Teamworks that Stream could support their unique use case. Upon further review, they found the chat API and React and React Native SDKs to be feature-rich, the Edge network to be reliable and scalable, and the documentation to be complete.
Result: Teamworks successfully integrated Stream Chat by referencing the docs and asking customer support questions via Slack, to which they received nearly immediate responses. Teamworks is confident that Stream's robust infrastructure can support a low-latency messaging experience for sports organizations around the globe.
Teamworks is the next generation of digital software that keeps communication open and empowers more than 6,000 professional and collegiate athletic organizations and the players that drive them.
Jefferson Heard, VP of Product Development, says, "Teamworks is the operating system for sports. We started out with messaging and calendar functionalities and expanded to forms after that, but we've moved into nutrition, social media, and performance management. Just about everybody in a professional sports organization will interact with Teamworks at some point in their day. If Microsoft powers offices, Teamworks is what powers the backend of a sports organization."
Teamworks customers primarily embrace technology to increase athlete engagement, promote accountability, organize administrative workflows, centralize schedules, manage rosters, and build athlete's brands. However, Teamworks's technologies can also be used across various professional organizations.
Replacing In-House Build with Stream Chat
Before integrating Stream Chat, Teamworks engineers built and maintained an in-house messaging solution. However, it was becoming a challenge to account for iterations in the product roadmap and reliably scale the core functionality of Teamworks to its international user bases in the Asian-Pacific and European markets due to the state-side location of their servers.
Heard says, "Stream's Edge network was a huge selling point for us. Now, we can confidently say to our customers it doesn't matter where our servers are; messages will always be delivered and feel instantaneous."
Ensuring global deliverability is a critical part of the Teamworks use case. Heard explains, "One of our big use cases is accountability, meaning that coaches want to know that athletes actually received reminders to go to class, etc., and see that they've opened messages. That's why we have a message history tab. In our previous iteration, all of our conversation creation and management was centralized. So even though we were using Firebase Cloud Messaging and could've probably delivered messages globally, the actual routing of those messages was very centralized because of the message history use case."
Integrating a chat component with a rock-solid Raft, RocksDB, and GO infrastructure made sense for the Teamworks engineers and the brand.
"To build a global messaging product in-house, you need a dedicated team. And if we were to go that route, we would want to resell it, which isn't the core Teamworks business. That's why we decided to use a third-party solution," Heard adds.
In addition to achieving low latency for global messaging, another aspect of Teamworks's in-house build was proving difficult to scale. Zack Cooper, VP and General Manager of Teamworks Hub explains his decision to integrate a 3rd party solution, "A challenge we faced was syncing messages between all of the different devices users may have. We leveraged Firebase and were able to solve that problem. It solved the original needs, but we ran into other challenges as our audience grew. At that moment, we had two options: one, we could keep iterating, or two, we could go with a provider who does that best to continue doing what we do best."
Evaluating Chat Providers
Once it became clear that Teamworks needed to partner with a third-party chat vendor to scale its platform reliably, the engineering team began evaluating its options. Heard recalls the first Stream competitor they met with, "We looked at Twilio Chat but didn't end up going with them. Part of our decision was based on pricing, and part of it was based on the level of customer support they provided. We would need immediate support for any messaging outages, and they couldn't guarantee that at our desired price point."
Aside from negotiating an ideal contractual arrangement, Cooper was interested in the development side of the partnership. He says, "The number one thing was that our new chat solution needed to be developer-friendly, which Stream was. At a glance, it was very clear that developers built Stream Chat for developers."
During R&D, Teamworks was continuously impressed by the robust catalog of features Stream Chat provided. Cooper notes, "There isn't necessarily one feature that sold us, whether it was GIPHY support or threads; it was simply that Stream had them OOTB. We didn't have to worry about building those integrations; we could grab those standard messaging features and toggle them on."
Working with Stream's Sales and Support Teams
Stream's Edge network, the library of available chat features, well-documented SDKs, cost-effective pricing, and enterprise customer support model ultimately convinced Teamworks to integrate. Cooper adds, "We actually didn't have that many questions for the Stream team during integration because the process was already so well documented."
Heard recalls that the pre-sales experience with Stream was just as impressive as the product. "The demos were in-depth. The people from our side could ask questions, and you could tell the folks from Stream knew their product. We had a high level of confidence that Stream would work for our use case after the initial sales call," he says.
Cooper notes the top-notch and responsive experience with Stream's customer success team. He says, "The customer support from Stream throughout implementation has been fantastic. Any questions in the Slack channel have gotten an immediate response. The Stream team worked quickly to give us insight and address any bugs. Sometimes, when you reach out to customer support, there are many escalation levels. But with Stream, we always talked to someone who could diagnose the issue immediately without deferring us to someone else."
The API integration has enabled their engineering team to focus on developing, maintaining, and improving new and noteworthy features of the platform without having to pull resources to devote to messaging iterations.
Cooper says, "It was more of a cost reduction challenge we were trying to solve, whether that be a need in engineering to constantly add or tweak a new feature to create the expected UX in a messaging app or reduce the customer support burden. Stream has helped us accomplish both of those."
Heard and Cooper agree that Teamworks has enjoyed partnering with Stream to improve its in-app messenger's user experience, scalability, and performance. If your business could benefit from switching from in-house chat to third-party integration, contact our sales team to learn more.
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