If you’re a sports buff, you may have already heard the story about how big data and SAP helped Germany win the 2014 World Cup. Many wisely said that it was data off the pitch as much as the players on it that stole the show for the four-time winners!
This is the stuff legends are made of. In October 2013, the German Football Association (DFB) and SAP began collaborating to develop a “Match Insights” software system for the German national team. This software would be used in preparation for and during the tournament (and is being used ever since).
The beauty of this software lay in its simplicity. During the World Cup, the German team analyzed the data (captured by video cameras placed around the pitch) and turned it into information viewable on tablet or mobile devices to help improve team performance and gain a deeper insight into its rivals.
The biggest resultant improvement: the team’s speed of passing. Germany reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2010, the team had an average ball possession time of 3.4 seconds. After using SAP Match Insights, based on the supplier’s Hana technology, it has been able to reduce that time to 1.1 seconds.
Other data captured included players’ speed and distance travelled, positioning and number of touches.
Today, almost every major professional sports team has an analytics department, or an analytics expert on staff. Articles suggest that teams often scan scout notes from clipboards, convert those PDFs to Excel, and then hand those files over to top-notch data developers. Thereafter, another set of young talented mathematicians crunch numbers that scouts and general managers use to help determine which players they think fit their club best.
No doubt, analytics are the present and future of professional sports. Any team that does not apply them to the fullest is at a competitive disadvantage!
Also trending is the popularity of data driven decision-making in sports among fans. Fans across the world are consuming more analytical content than ever – and loving it! There are now entire websites dedicated to the research and analysis of sports statistics and how they relate to a prediction in performance.
Sports analytics is the new name of the game!