“When your enemy’s making mistakes, don’t interrupt him”.
In other words, never disturb your enemy, especially when he’s taking bad decisions.
No, not a quote from The art of war by Sun Tzu. These are wise words of Brad Pitt in the cult movie Moneyball. With his masterful performance, he brought to the big screen the story of Billie Bean, general manager of the Oakland Athletics (MLB team) and main character in the greatest Big Data “Victory” of modern Sports.
Bean, former baseball player, thanks to Paul DePodesta’s help, could assemble a record-breaking team with a budget 10 times smaller than the rest of the MLB, drawing the attention of the Sports world and big companies to Sabermetric (i.e. the application of statistical analysis to baseball records).
Nowadays companies use data with extreme attention and, most of all, they base on data the important decisions and financial investments. The credit of this procedure mainly belongs to Sports. Sports were indeed the first area where data analysis was implemented and, again, it is in this panorama that every year we can see new approaches related to the use of a huge amount of measurable information.
The use of data in Sports is not a new phenomenon.
We have to thank Henry Chadwick, born in England and naturalized American citizen, who decided, at the turn of the century, to give a numerical value to the performances of the athletes. This was the origin of the first Box Score (applied to Baseball) and from that moment on the approach Data Driven started its incredible growth, most of all in big Corporates business decisions.
In the XXI century, our biggest problem is not how to get data, but how to analyze them. The study of the datum is a field where big companies want to invest and improve every day more, and sometimes to do that they’re getting help from sports talents. This is happening because the approach of statisticians and Sports analysts toward data is extremely cutting edge and, once again, is a source of inspiration for companies.
The Game is not the only one who profits from the countless statistics of the Sports Data Analysts. Let’s think about companies and clubs who could use these data to sell merchandising or many other services to supporters. This priceless data flow could be used in any field, not only Sports.
The importance of the data-driven approach seems to have an even brighter future if we connect it to the development of the Predictive Analysis. From the data of the past, it will be possible in the future to create predictive models based on many variables, making Sports and business world every day more alike. To know what our clients, players, and supporters did in the past is no longer enough; we do have to understand what they will want, what their needs will be in the future, and what kind of moves they will use in the game field as a reaction to our specific strategies.
It looks like a movie, but it’s not.
However, the Total Data Driven approach could have some limits. One of the problems could be finding subjects who are not aware of the important potential of data. Family companies, egomaniac managers or just wrong persons in the wrong place could be a serious obstacle to the economic growth of a company.
To create a successful career we have to be brave, determined, intuitive and ready to change our ideas. If these are the preconditions, numbers can then help us to establish a winning business model.
Intuition is a human quality. After that, we can rely on numbers to develop and measure ideas.
In other words, let’s leave intuition to coaches and test their strategies with the right metrics.
If the current situation is constantly improving – even with a lack of know-how and financial investment – what does the future hold?
The path seems to be very clear and the evolution of big data is increasingly growing in the companies macro strategies. The substantial use of information must be an important driver in any field of application, moving beyond that old modus operandi based on simple and personal viewpoint.
In a sports and business world, built on an objective analysis of metrics, there is no more space for opinions and we can not allow ourselves to fall in love with our ideas. We have to rely on numbers.
The entrepreneurial talent can be the trigger of any business evolution, but the basis for judgment and the right path to follow must be data-driven. Henry Chadwick taught us that.