In sport and business, data is a game changer
By Ian Wong
The needs of Australian and global tennis fans have shifted, and the challenge for tennis authorities is how to interpret the growing volume of data tennis fans now offer to provide the best customer experience and keep fans engaged on- and offline.
As we sit back and enjoy this year's Australian Open, it's impossible to miss how much the game has transformed over the past two decades.
Since IBM became Tennis Australia's technology partner in 1993, the tournament has delivered many innovations and advanced technologies that have changed the way the game is played, coached, officiated and watched by fans. TV, print and radio consumption have been complemented by tablet devices, smartphones and hashtags.
One such example of technology innovation is IBM SlamTracker: a sophisticated data analysis solution that enables fans, media, players and their coaches to gain unique insight into players' performance by analysing eight years of grand slam tennis data to find patterns and styles for players when they win.
Player data is compared to an opponent's data to determine the 'Keys to the Match' so users can find out what players have to do to increase their chances of defeating their opponent. During matches, actual performance can be tracked against key performance indicators in real time.
It's a great example of data analysis driving innovation in the tennis world, but this shift hasn't just been evident on Rod Laver Arena: it's happening in businesses around the world.
In sport and business, data can also be used to assess performance in all areas to identify what a business or sportsperson must do to increase their chances of success. That insight is enormously valuable.
If you don't work with data, things become unpredictable, which makes it difficult to plan. Analytics can help you plan for the future. In fact, it's proven that organisations with a broad-based, analytics-driven culture perform, on average, three times better than their peers.
With advanced analytics, such as those embedded in SlamTracker, organisations can tackle the explosion in data. Whether it involves gaining a better understanding of customer buying patterns to increase sales or providing more efficient services to consumers, the power of information analytics must be harnessed by businesses and be a key driver of business intelligence.
Real-time analytics is now mainstream - the same analytic software used in SlamTracker is being used by hospitals to monitor babies in prenatal wards, police forces to prevent crime and financial services companies to improve customer service and cut costs.
Particularly for my interests, retail businesses are using the software to improve sales, customer service and to make themselves more efficient. Data analysis allows retailers to monitor the effectiveness of customer promotions, and identify and predict the best-selling products so managers can place more accurate orders according to customer demand.
Imagine the power of being able to generate the top 'Keys' to success for your business. The technology is already here, and Tennis Australia among many others is reaping the benefits. How are you capturing and analysing this crucial business data?
Ten Things You Didn't Know About the Australian Open
- IBM SlamTracker analyses 41 million data points - eight years of Grand Slam tennis data - to find patterns and styles for players when they win.
- At the 2011 Australian Open, IBM statisticians noted a total of 461 player challenges - only 27% were overturned with Justine Henin most successful.
- The Australian Open website first launched in 1996 - in 1997 it registered 17 million hits in the tournament's two weeks.
- More than 50,000 tennis balls were used at the Australian Open last year.
- Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova were involved in the longest women's match in Grand Slam history, when they battled it out for 4 hours 44 minutes at the 2011 Australian Open.
- 36% of all Australian Open website visits last year were from mobile devices - 114,000 in total.
- 686,000 fans attended the Australian Open in 2012 - even more than the 615,829 fans the tournament's official Facebook page had at that time.
- The fastest serve ever recorded was performed by Australian Sam Groth in 2012 at 263km/h.
- There was 35km of cable, 667 laptops and 180 work mobiles within the Tennis Australia team in 2012.
- Wilson provides enough racquet string during the Australian Open to cover the length of a marathon (the same distance as a return trip from Melbourne Airport to Rod Laver Arena).