In 2003, Michael Lewis released his bestselling book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The book tells the story of the 2002 Oakland A’s and their maverick GM, Billy Beane. Beane helped pioneer the adoption of applied statistical analysis in baseball, and his success with the A’s persuaded many Major League front offices to hire full-time analytics departments to help optimize their rosters, lineups, and training decisions. In other words, Moneyball completely changed the way that people think about the game of baseball.
And that was only the beginning. Today, teams in all major sports leagues are using analytics to explore previously unquantifiable aspects of their sports. According to a recent Washington Post article, roughly ¾ of NBA teams have full-time data analysts on staff, and analytics-oriented executives are taking over many front offices. For example, current Memphis Grizzlies VP of Basketball Operations, John Hollinger, is a former ESPN data guru. This comes in conjunction with an explosion in the number of companies offering specialized sports data, such as Opta Sports in soccer and SportsVU in basketball.
Analytics is driving this paradigm shift in how modern sports franchises are run. The traditional approach of relying on observation and gut-feeling to make decisions is increasingly giving way to an integrated, data-driven approach to every aspect of franchise operations – from scouting and signing players to determining promotions for the hotdog stands in the arena. In the face of this rapidly changing landscape, franchises are faced with a unique opportunity. By identifying the best ways to collect, analyze, and deliver data-driven insights, they can leapfrog slower adopters and establish themselves as leaders in this new era of sports analytics, which can translate to wins on the court and in the boardroom.
Analytics in Sports: A Blog Series
As franchises continue to reinvent themselves and embrace a more data-driven approach to business, a solution like the MicroStrategy Analytics Platform will allow them to build a holistic and integrated framework that meets all of their business requirements. In this series we will be looking at four different use cases for analytics within a single franchise, ranging from sales analysis to player enablement and education. The first and perhaps most important use case is the creation of executive level dashboards.
Instilling a data-driven approach to all boardroom activities will set the tone and help infuse analytics throughout the rest of the organization—culture starts at the top. It will set analytics-based arguments as the expectation for any decision-making process. This can be achieved by producing executive overview dashboards, which can serve as the primary information resource for executives. The creation of an always-available, up-to-date hub for all the most important franchise KPIs allows for immediate and targeted action. Imagine a mobile dashboard that gives a franchise president access to the latest data on every player in the organization, from salary figures to game stats, while at the same time allowing him to navigate merchandising sales KPIs or overall staff payroll information. Having access to all this information in a single app is incredibly powerful—it eliminates guesswork and enables better, faster decision-making.
Implementing analytics at the highest level of an organization is a good way to ensure that it spreads to decision-making at every other level. While empowering executives to make better decisions is important, analytics also touches other areas of franchise business activities like arena operations, merchandising sales, and social media marketing—but we’ll save those for next time.
When it gets down to it, analytics is about encouraging people to think about and visualize data in new ways. We’ve been thinking a lot about sports data here at MicroStrategy over the past few months, and with the World Series having just wrapped up, we decided to develop an interactive dashboard recapping the 2014 MLB season. It looks at a wide range of data types from team payroll and performance, to more advanced statistical measures of individual players. We encourage you to explore it here and share your feedback and thoughts with us on the MicroStrategy Community.
On deck: analytics for arena operations, sales, and social media marketing…stay tuned!