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What we can learn from sports and Data Analytics

The other morning while eating my breakfast I was catching up on the first off-season MotoGP test in Valencia while watching my injury-laden Dallas Stars attempt to best the Pittsburgh Penguins in their Wednesday night matchup. Something struck me about both these sports, namely about how their use of Data Analytics has not only increased, but has become intrinsic in how they operate. Is there anything that we in business could learn from this?

The amount of data MotoGP teams utilise is astounding and this allows them to adjust everything from tyre pressures to engine mappings but also influence the design decisions around the bike. This takes on particular significance during this first test when you have riders joining new teams and everyone getting their first shot at the machinery they will be running in the 2019 season. During a race the real-time data flowing back to the garage allows the teams to make recommendations on engine mappings to conserve tyres or fuel which up until the dashboard messaging system was in place this last season was mainly done via a pit board as, unlike their 4-wheeled counterparts in F1, there is no ship to shore radio.

When it comes to hockey, more and more teams are employing Data Analytics to measure their performance, understand their opponents and ensure the right matchups take place on the ice. There is a whole plethora of KPIs being employed to do this (if you want to read more, just check out #FancyStats on Twitter) and the teams and their analysts take this seriously.

So how does this relate to business? When you consider MotoGP with its massive amounts of data and technologically advanced motorcycles, the key takeaway is action. They don’t just gather data for the sake of it, but they use it to make design decisions, to make their bike and their riders the most competitive they can be. During a race, the real-time analytics will quickly allow them to identify if running out of fuel is a possible issue and mitigate that outcome. Unfortunately a lot of businesses have vast quantities of data that ultimately are vastly under-utilised or ignored completely. In business, as with hockey, the right KPIs enable each team to evaluate themselves and their opponents to put themselves in the best position they can possibly be to come away with the victory. 

Data is useless without action and evaluation. KPIs need to be effective and trusted. Underpinning all of this is how the business communicates; without clear communication you are essentially asking your team to be that rider reading a board while racing past it on a motorcycle at 200m.p.h.+. Ask yourself, do you want your business to be battling for the championship, or merely another contender?

If you want to learn more about how Data Analytics can give you and your business a competitive edge (or if you want to chat MotoGP or hockey!) do give us a call.