Data Analytics and Talent - It's a Team Sport


In any sporting event, athletic excellence draws the fans. But while fitness, training, and nutrition are primary factors contributing to a player’s performance, more than ever today, technology is a vital part of the mix.


By Rick Scurfield, President, NetApp APAC


The Numbers Game

Many spectators at the 2014 tournament were probably not overly aware of the behind-the-scenes role of data, while they watched Serena Williams claim the coveted Billie Jean King trophy.


But the ranking and value of the players they were watching were a result of analytic algorithms. With big data analytics tools, players and coaches are able to drill down deeper into simple statistics such as aces, double faults, first-serve percentages to analyse players’ performance. Not only so, they can also analyse competitors' performance and behavioural patterns, and help develop an optimal strategy against each opponent, using predictive analysis.


Starting in 2015, coaches will be able to give critical advice to players using real-time data analytics in between sets at WTA events.


Another highly competitive sporting arena – the Formula One race – is also built upon terabytes of data, relaying real-time information on every single component of the car’s performance. All this information is then used by the pit team to fine-tune in-race strategies as even a thousandth of a second can determine the winner.


Competing in the Tech Arena

Sports have become a multi-billion-dollar global business. Data analytics is no longer an option; it is now a necessity for the sporting fraternity.


Sporting apps are already a big hit with fans. These apps allow fans to watch “live” matches, check results, access statistics and background information of each player and his/her performance to date, and read or add comments about each game.


However, the main complaint is that much of what is provided on these apps is still not engaging enough. Imagine if a system could be developed that could give fans a true gauge of who is most likely to win - predictive real-time analytics could make all this possible.


The possibilities are limitless. For any data to be meaningful or useful, efficient and reliable data collation, storage, protection, retrieval and analysis is needed. Technology will never be able to take the place of talent and teamwork, but it certainly can add some solid science to winning strategies. The future Roger Federer, for example, would be the player who can react better to real-time guidance. Even single-handed backhand maestros can gain an extra edge.


To read the full editorial written by Rick Scurfield, visit The Straits Times.


[Image courtesy WTA via Getty Images]