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Learning from the past: Business Intelligence and sport

In recent years sporting events have featured more heavily in the media due to the success of UK athletes. For the last two years a British rider has won the Tour de France and this summer Andy Murray won the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon becoming the first Brit to win in 77 years.

The London 2012 Olympics were also an enormous success for Great Britain which won 29 Gold medals, ranking them third in the overall medal table behind the United States and China.

A year on, the dust has settled and athletes are already preparing for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Great Britain, and all competing countries, want to repeat their successes and improve upon their near misses and failures.

The biggest question is, how do they go about this?

Performance Monitoring

Some countries are draconian about how they funnel public money into sport, increasing spending only on sports where they’ve won Olympics medals, while reducing the budget in other sports.

On a more grass-roots level, trainers and coaches need to know why an athlete won, and if there is a formula that can be repeated.

As well as analysing the performance of their own athletes, coaches will also be looking at how others achieved success, and will try to learn from them.

Undoubtedly there are some benefits to watching footage from previous competitions, but whether analysing an individual’s performance, or the success of the entire Olympic team, there is a vast amount of data to study.

Taking it one step further, data  is available all the way back to the Olympics in 1896. The volume of data from a single sport, across all of the Olympics, would take years to study if analysed using traditional methods.

Interactive Data Analysis

A business intelligence dashboard offers a way of summarising large amounts data in an easy to read format. It provides a top down view, displaying the information as a series of interactive charts, which allow users to drill down and investigate any results that look interesting.

The Olympics website itself has a few basic search options with a series of drop-lists to narrow the data by the year, sport, athlete, or country.

Each page provides a brief snapshot, but it does not provide access to the underlying data about each bout or match.

  • What was the tipping point?
  • Did they win on serves or through rallies in tennis?
  • What made the critical difference in swimming?
  • Was it an athlete’s stamina, their age, their diet or something else?

An Olympic business intelligence dashboard would provide detailed information on every aspect of a sport, every match and all of the athletes, with the ability to view large amounts of data with ease, trends and patterns become easier to spot, across any period of time.

Users can query the data, search for the answer to a very specific question, and immediately be presented with the results.

Every year more sports are using new technology to analyse results and improve performance, and as we race towards Rio in 2016, athletes and coaches should be making use of all available systems, such as BI reporting, to improve their competitive edge.

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