Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kicking Off Smarter Analytics Week with Money-Ball!

Between Sachin's 100th100 and the Union Budget, its been an exciting week in the news for cricket and money. Since I am a nouveau fan to Cricket, I reached out to our resident expert and Brand and Communications Leader, Vasantha Kumar to co-author this blog post to celebrate Smarter Analytics Week! So here is our premise: Whether it’s on the playing field or in the boardroom, predictive analytics is the competitive muscle that proves it is brains over brawn. Read further if you agree. Actually, read further if you disagree too...

I recently tweeted about a movie, Moneyball, which I watched on a flight last week. The gist of the movie is that in sports, like any industry, there are rich teams and poor teams. The traditional way to win championships was to have big payroll budgets to buy the "best" players. In the movie, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, Bill Beane, knows he doesn't have the budgets to be able to do that so he turns to data analytics to pick players who are undervalued and wins as many games as the richest team in the league with a 1/3 of the budget to make the playoffs. Beane, viewed as a sports visionary at the time, convinced his bosses to give him the freedom to apply his statistically-driven approach to run the Oakland A’s and make them one of the most successful teams in Major League Baseball.

The "court"ship between analytics and sport extends to other sports. IBM put analytics into the hands of tennis fans adding to the excitement of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship. IBM unveiled enhanced PointStream — an innovative online scoreboard that uses powerful analytics technology to analyze both historic and real-time match data to identify past trends and draw conclusions about the future. During play, live results and player performance were compared against the suggested keys, allowing fans to see in an instant where players needed to focus their game in order to compete more effectively. PointStream made its debut earlier this year at Wimbledon.

Closer to home, and our hearts, Cricket is also been at the forefront of using analytics – whether in aiding cricketers make what seem like inspired decisions on the field, in structuring the game with the Duckworth-Lewis method or in helping cricketers improve their personal performances through video and post match analyses. Every team and every coach now has an analyst as a permanent and an integral member of the coaching staff.

These same strategies are being used increasingly by businesses and organizations that are finding that the greater use of analytics to improve business processes, the greater the return. A study by MIT Sloan Management and IBM’s Institute for Business Value found that organizations applying analytics in the most mature ways are three times more likely to outperform competitors that are just beginning to adopt analytics. And, top performers are more than 5X more likely to use an analytic approach within their business processes than to rely on intuition.

Similarly, the 2010 CFO study from IBM GBS revealed companies investing in improving their ability to obtain business insights are more likely to achieve better performance -- performance that’s measured in dollars with gains like two times greater EBITDA growth, and 36 percent greater revenue (CAGR).

So, next time, you admire an inspired bowling change that brings in a wicket or a batsman playing strokes that you don’t associate with him, don’t just applaud the performance – think about what the power of analytics can do for your business. In the meantime, I hope you join the Smarter Analytics Leadership Summit today starting at 6:15pm IST/8:45am EST.

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