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TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog


Gooooooal: Soccer Scores with Moneyball and Statistical Analytics

England’s Manchester City Football Club (soccer to those of us in the US) is taking the Moneyball statistical analytics concept made famous by the Oakland A’s baseball team a step further, by releasing detailed data about the team to the public to try to mirror the success the NBA and MLB have had in the US.

Soccer ball and money 150x150 Gooooooal: Soccer Scores with Moneyball and Statistical Analytics“There are many people in the analytics community right now who have the skills, desire and vision to make a difference in the performance analytics space, people who can add significant value such as Bill James did in baseball,” team officials note when announcing the move. “But those people have no significant data to work with.”

While this move is “essentially unprecedented in the soccer world,” it follows the open-source and crowdsourcing trend of making data open to large groups of people to spur innovation, notes the Atlantic magazine.

“In knowledge discovery in datasets, the major barrier to entry is access to the data,” the article notes. “When corporations, governments or other private firms jealously guard their proprietary data, the number of people playing with the data and trying to discover valuable things . . . will remain small. When data is made public, anyone can put that data to work.”

The most high-profile application of sports analytics – made popular by the movie “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt – has been predicting which professional baseball and basketball players will help their teams be the most successful based on past performances. But now sports leagues are using analytics for labor and contract negotiations, reports InformationWeek.

MLB values people well-versed in statistical analytics over lawyers in contract negotiations, while the NBA and the players’ union rely on their own data experts to negotiate player lock outs like the one in December.

Sports teams aren’t the only organizations that can benefit from relying on data-driven decisions over those fueled by the traditional gut check that executives have relied on for decades.

Erik Brynjolfsson, director at MIT’s Center for Digital Business, who has analyzed 179 large, publicly traded companies, finds that the firms that use big data and analytics to drive decisions are 5% more profitable and productive than their competitors.

“Furthermore, the study found a relationship between this method and other performance measures such as asset utilization, return on equity and market value,” Brynjolfsson notes. “There is a lot of low-hanging fruit for companies that are able to use big data to their advantage.”

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One Comment


One cannot underscore the importance of regularly reviewing data to discover actionable insights, but the “Moneyball” association does not apply here. The Oakland A’s ethos detailed in Lewis’ best seller illustrates the application of advanced analytics by a resource-strapped franchise to merely remain relevant and competitive. On the other end of the spectrum sits Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, who has invested nearly $2 billion in his football club. In 2012, MCFC moved to 3rd highest payroll of any professional athletics team in the entire world! (per @Forbes)


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