As the momentum grows for big data in businesses, it is sometimes useful to look outside to other markets to get a sense of what is happening or where the future lies. Sports is often held up as a useful metaphor for business as the results are very visible and therefore the players and coaches have nowhere to hide.
The most obvious examples are Formula1 where the cars stream gigabytes of data every race. More recently the power of big data came to the America’s Cup to both measure the performance of the boats but also to make is easier for spectators to understand what the hell was going on. With complex machinery – Formula1 cars and America’s Cup yachts – you can understand how big data can make a difference and why it has grown in the last year or two.
So it is slightly surprising to learn that sports with just a team of players on the pitch are able to reap the benefits of big data. As the video below shows, the ability to keep the team performing at peak levels during training is amazing. And what they have discovered is that the players gain from the immediate feedback. They have a better understanding of what is expected of them so they can self-train – in the moment.
What is most surprising is that this video was shot in 2010 – over 3 years ago. Businesses are nowhere near this use of big data. The idea of measuring individuals’ performance real time and helping them improve and perform at their best, or monitoring customer behaviour and adjusting a website dynamically, is a pipe dream. Big data for business has a long way to go, and sports can lead the way.