Competitive sports is perhaps one of the oldest forms of entertainment known to man. Of course, today, sports is far more than just entertainment - it is a career, a calling, a platform to demonstrate one’s physical fitness and mental agility, a booming industry in its own right and a global unifying force integrating nations and continents.
It is surprising that despite being so rich in data, adoption of analytics in sports has been rather bumpy and uneven. Only recently, sports analytics has come of age, and even so, there’s plenty of room for penetration. 2016-2022 sports analytics forecasts estimate a massive 40.1% CAGR potentially reaching a value of USD 3.97 bn in 2022. We at FORMCEPT, a frontrunner in data analytics, have recently developed comprehensive big data analytics solution for a Fortune 1000 sports analytics company of global repute using our flagship product MECBOT - a unified analysis platform. In this article, we will share interesting use-cases of innovative sports analytics solutions - one on FORMCEPT, and a few others from across the domain.
Types of Analytics in Sports:
Sports analytics is a vast domain teeming with high-end specialists who deliver solutions to a wide range of user-groups. There are three important parameters that define a sports analytics solution:
- What has the solution been developed for? (Badminton, Cricket, Football, etc.)
- Why has the solution been developed? (e.g. performance improvement of athlete, augmenting viewer experience, etc.)
- Who are going to use it? (players, coaches, fans, journalists, managers, referees, etc.)
Accordingly, there are three features of sports analytics solutions:
- Metrics (strike rate in cricket, run-pass balance in football, rally count in badminton, etc.)
- Technology (wearable technology, virtual reality, motion tracking, big data, etc.)
- User view (scoreboards and look-alike analysis for fans, lifetime value of player for team managers, player fitness dashboards for coaches, etc.)
With this overview of how sports analytics is deployed, let us now look at some of the interesting applications of sports analytics in real life.
Primary Use-Case: How MECBOT Transformed User Experience for a Leading Sports Analytics Company
For a major Fortune 100 sports analytics company, the major challenge was to retain their customers - cricket fans, cricket team managers, match broadcasters and sports editors - for longer duration on their portal through dynamic insights. It was sitting on the enormous cricket data it had compiled during the last century, but didn’t know how to operationalize it in an engaging format to attract more users. Traditional sports analytics do not support human query languages, and hence do not connect with portal users. The data was not presented in a visually intuitive and attractive manner, hence the analysis appeared disjointed and incomprehensive.
|Query in human language
|E.g. “Fastest 100s in ODI” Or “Player performance in a ground as a bowler”
|360-degree player analysis
|Current performance compared against seasonal averages, weak positions, strong positions, current opposition in current pitch, etc.
|Current player is analysed against look-alike (similar players) and deriving data-driven strategies for the current match
|Specific, intelligent comparison
|“Warne in Bouncy Pitches” or “Lara against Lee in bouncy pitches”
|Near real-time coverage
|Alerts sent before and during the match
|Team performance analysis
|Prediction of Team performance in the current match based on historical data, current environmental data like bouncy pitch, moisture condition, etc.
|Different views of data, e.g. Managers & fans see different dashboards each
Here’s how this solution impacted the sports analytics company:
Other Use Cases:
Performance Improvement of Athletes: What if an aspiring sprinter could know about the respiratory performance of Usain Bolt on the morning of a championship run? What if a football coach could know the home-advantage of not just his team, but specifically the home advantage index of his forward players? What if a baseball player could identify the exact time in which his muscle flexibility slows down? These are just some of the ways in which motion tracking, biomechanics, and wearable technology are already boosting player performance - not just in global arenas like the Olympics and the Leagues, but also round the year in gyms, practice sessions and club matches. In racquet sports like tennis, shot charts, stroke analysis, and cout movement tracking are some of the metrics used to augment performance of players.
Resolving Controversial Referee Decisions: In a landmark Taek-won-do match (a form of martial art) in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, the referee missed a winning hit, gave an incorrect ruling, and reversed it an hour later. Since then, analytics has made major in-roads into the sport. In fact, not just martial arts - most contact sports (Football, Rugby, etc.) are beset with challenge of manual eyeballing by the referee and formerly analog scoring. Technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have now made it possible to detect misses and hits at contact points almost on a real-time basis by providing a 360-degree high-resolution view of the game.
Player and Team Valuations: Today, sports is one of the largest sponsorship bets for global brands. Backing the right team and the right player at the right time has become more important than ever. For this, it is not enough to know just the performance statistics of the player. For example, one needs to know: What is the global fandom value of the player, i.e. how many steady / loyal fans does the player have globally and what rate is the number growing? What is the game expectancy of the player, i.e. how many years more can the player perform at his / her peak form? Such analysis requires complex algorithms which are enabled by high-end sports analytics today. In National Basketball League (NBA), statistics like Basketball Power Index (BPI), team evaluation charts, etc. are used for player and team assessments.
Augmenting Viewer Experience: The truth is, analytics is like a freshly cooked dish, which needs to be garnished before serving for appetising consumption. Imagine knowing the heart rate of your favourite gymnast athlete being telecast live while she/he makes that winning somersault. Or, imagine getting live feed when Virat Kohli breaks the record on the highest number of centuries in a one-day match. With many other advances such as player-tracking in NBA, sports analytics is breaking new barriers everyday in enhancing user experience, as the sports media industry becomes more and more experiential, data-driven and fan-centric.
Not just sports, analytics is changing the face of consumer experience in most sectors today by transforming industries from inside-out. The myth that big data is only for big businesses is being challenged by innovation leaders like FORMCEPT. Our data analytics solutions span industries like healthcare, energy, insurance, banking, and so on, with a key focus on enabling businesses convert data-to-dollars faster through an automated pipeline of actionable business insights. To know more about what we do and how we can help you, please visit www.formcept.com or write to us at email@example.com.