Batting Averages and Business Intelligence

The game of baseball is without a doubt the most measured profession in history. Every at-bat, every out, every run, hit, error, stolen base, sacrifice, or home run is captured. And it has been so for the past 140 years. There is more data that has been collected and catalogued in baseball than any other sport, and virtually any other industry.

Baseball has many fundamental measures used to evaluate player performance, such as the number of pitches thrown and the number thrown for strikes. There are also many derived metrics, such as earned run average (ERA), the average number of earned runs allowed by a pitcher per nine innings, or batting average (AVG), the number of hits for a batter per qualifying at bats. In recent years, more complex metrics have been created that provide deeper insight into expected performance of the players and the organization.

Much like in baseball stats, organizations generate massive amounts of data about their resources and operations, including sales, delivery, manufacturing, employees, training, performance, tenure, interactions, marketing efforts, and many others. This data is collected, measured, and frequently published for internal review with the goal of evaluating the efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability of the organization. Within an industry, each organization generally collects similar data points, and uses these metrics to evaluate performance, usually with some "special sauce" applied to make it more personal.

What if your organization adopted baseball's approach to seeking predictability, and used the result to stay in the know, spot trends as they happen, and push your business further? Imagine if every aspect of your organization's critical operations, which is already being captured, could be better utilized to not only explain and describe what has happened historically, but could be used to model what is likely to happen in the future within a well-defined margin of error.

A recent example of this in baseball is the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose use of predictive modeling is making a profound impact on their success. Perhaps one of the most visible manifestations of this is the team's use of the defensive shift of their shortstop toward right field in order to overload that side of the field with infielders. This is the result of their analysis of certain batters' propensity to hit ground balls to that side of the field. Although this shift is only employed sparingly, it often results in a ground ball out or two per game, which can be the difference between a win and a loss.

This perfectly illustrates the power of predictive analytics in business. The Pittsburgh Pirates were not collecting any more data points than they had been for years. They were also not collecting any more data than the competition. Instead, they used the rich set of data that they had already collected, applied concepts of advanced analytics, and were able to correlate some very specific situations to some very specific outcomes, and then used this to change their behavior and subsequent outcomes-and increase their success.

Has your organization been collecting data for years, yet not been getting the incremental value out of it that you would like? Would you like to see how to leverage this rich set of data to better anticipate and alter your key business outcomes, starting with a set of dashboards looking at the past and present and quickly moving into predictive analytics to better understand the future?

If so, please contact us to discuss how we can apply our BI Essentials Solution to give you real-time insight into your business, then use predictive analytics to help you increase your chances for a winning season.

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