• Luke Thompson

Download how leaders in sport are using data to open a sustainable competitive gap in 2022

Updated: Feb 28

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Nine critical ways that leaders are using data to open a sustainable competitive gap in 20
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Welcome to 2022, THE pivot year for data driven sporting success...

Q4 2021 was THE moment when most major sports organisations – elite clubs, national governing bodies and franchise models - realised that, to get ahead, they need to own their own data to deliver across the spectrum of performance, participation and engagement.

The penalties for being off the pace with this data shift are huge. Playing catch up will become incredibly difficult. Follower’s face having (vs. leaders):

  • Less access to talent as behind others.

  • Higher talent acquisition costs.

  • More talent acquisition ‘failures.’

  • Less income from lower member / fan engagement, lower participation levels.

  • A long-term reduction in effective grass-roots investment.

  • Reduced organisational alignment around a shared ambition.

  • Loss of first mover advantage as new tech creates more insight.

In this quick-read blog we share nine reasons why owning your own dataset (to fuel sports performance analysis and aid decision taking) is the sporting ‘must have’ in 2022. And why 2023 may be too late to recover a late start.

We share a proven roadmap that you can adopt to protect your game or club.

Hang on! Aren’t excellent data solutions already available?

Yes, loads!

StatsBomb, Opta, Kitman Labs, Pulse, Two Circles, Statsports, Catapult Sports, Twenty First Group, Hudl…

…plus, masses of organisation owned, individual, data stores (often on laptops & in Excel).

These ‘point’ solutions tend to solve singular challenges. Result? Fractured understanding, multiple logins, data definition inconsistencies, security risks. Instead of clarity data brings a murky ‘grey’. It’s really hard for data science teams to do their thing. It’s almost impossible for non-technical users to gain access to all the data analytics and insights that matter to them.

2022 leaders – especially in ‘franchise/federated/club structured’ set-ups - are consolidating all data into one platform to create their own complete picture across performance, participation and engagement.

1. Win the talent war, long term (learn more HERE).

Leaders have their own, consolidated, data set with access dictated by user role(s). Typical data includes:

  • Data from all the main market ‘point’ solutions.

  • Their own data (coaching, performance tracking, medical).

  • Data they have calculated themselves by cross-referencing data sets over time (critical for data science teams to reveal hidden ‘x factor’ insights).

  • Financial data (talent value estimates, impacts upon results, revenues).

  • Cross age-group data.

  • Global data from multiple leagues, competitor nations, geographies, age groups.

  • Scouting reports and data. Often ‘softer’ attitudinal assessments.

  • Key, objective, measures to assess talent vs. strategic goals.

2. Coach more effectively (learn more HERE)

Leaders get relevant feedback into the hands of players and coaches fast - almost instantly after training or competition. It’s when it’s most likely to be effective. To achieve this they:

  • Use Apps to make access easy via the device that’s most in hand.

  • Use cloud processing to ensure super fast data consolidation, analysis and presentation of their data. No waiting for third parties.

  • Present the data in non-technical formats. Ideally video edits and stats. And they only share what’s necessary.

  • Allow two-way interaction via the same App to add ‘human’ interpretation to the data, plus engage talent.

  • Make the App THE place for news, correspondence. During the pandemic we’ve seen clients share recipes, home exercise plans.

3. Grow income and lower costs (learn more HERE)

Sporting success mostly correlates to available budget, even for Olympic events. Yet the Premier League is seeing stand-out performances from clubs without top six budget. How does owning your own consolidated dataset significantly contribute?

  1. Performance. Earlier identification / better fit of talent than competitors = lower cost & higher sell-on opportunity.

  2. Engagement driven Income. The ability to grow membership and fan engagement by delivery a joined up experience. With insights informed by connected data across membership, retail, digital, ticketing, Wi-Fi, it’s possible to cross-sell/up-sell and create data sharing models with marketing partners.

  3. Participation. Data drives stronger understanding about WHERE to invest in ways that encourage participation.

4. Create shared data definitions to act as one (learn more HERE)

It’s incredibly confusing for users where, for example, ‘acceleration’ is defined by one platform differently to another.

For data to add real, actionable, value data definitions need to be consistent across all data sources & platforms. Data owning leaders put themselves in control by:

  • Bringing all data into one central ‘pot’ or data lake.

  • Creating one, consistent, set of definitions that everyone can understand. Their own ‘data dictionary’ if you like.

  • Using this ‘single source of the truth’ as the ‘hub for sports data analysis.

This consistency speeds information sharing, understanding and decision taking. Who would not want this for their sport, club or franchise?

5. Be more ‘Pirelli’ to release data’s power (learn more HERE)

Elite clubs, National Governing Bodies and Franchises are complex beasts. Operational breadth can create data overload. Unless data is consolidated into one, controlled, asset it’s hard to find and action ‘gem’ insights.

Leaders recognise that data allows their sport, club or franchise to operated as one, interconnected & optimised, ecosystem.

  • Income is affected by performance.

  • Performance is affected by income.

  • Income is affected by Membership.

  • Membership is affected by experience.

And so on…

6. Make insights engaging to & actionable by end users

The biggest, single, action that leaders take to gain value from data is to make it relevant, easily assessable and actionable, by non-technical end users. Data scientists can be plonked with just about any data set, but it’s unreasonable to ask the same of athletes, members, fans, coaches, scouts, support teams.

Data Leaders invest time with end users to:

  1. Understand which metrics make most difference.

  2. Listen to how they define these metrics.

  3. Understand how to present this key data back in ways which are instantly understandable, engaging, meaningful.

  4. Create ways for end users to collaborate around these key metrics (two way communication)

7. Data speed opens the competitive gap

The sports analytics market is predicted to grow from $889m to $3440m 2021-28. First adopters of new insights gain most advantage. Learn fast, apply fast.

Leaders have the ability to:

  • Rapidly test new tech & data feeds.

  • Quickly combine new data with their existing data sets.

  • Act fast in conjunction with end users.

  • Gain advantage whilst others catch-up.

  • Quickly discount sports tech & data ‘red herrings’

Owning their own data set & platform provides this agility. Without this, every new data source just increases the number of systems / logins you have, plus adds yet more data definition muddle.

8. Secure year on year gains.

Sport is a relative newcomer to data. Earlier adopting sectors have learned that year on year advantage happen when they are able to look at one, combined, data set over multiple years.

Testing, Learning. Finding the small changes that accumulate to bigger changes over time.

Leaders know:

  • Smart data science employees need deep data to make a difference. Ideally one, owned, data lake to interrogate over years, not weeks.

  • Incremental gains are found by looking across data sets over time. For example, if players sleep slightly more, how much further do they run vs. previous years?

9. Togetherness delivers sporting success.

Anyone who has enjoyed sporting success at any level knows that togetherness is THE defining characteristic of sporting success. Of course talent is essential. But it rarely delivers results without shared cause across performance, participation, engagement.

Leaders know:

  1. One, owned, data platform enables everyone to ‘sing from the same song sheet’

  2. Access via Apps powered by relevant data brings people together.

  3. Data access, when supported by two-way App based communication, breaks down silos and barriers.

  4. Breaking down silos releases additional value as users feel able to contribute.

If you’d like to understand your data maturity/opportunity vs. the best in sport, then get in touch.

We’ll help you to understand your options to open a sustainable competitive gap, across performance, participation and engagement, in 2022 and beyond.

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