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Accenture Information Management Services

Giving business
a sporting chance

Point of View

When France lost soccer’s 2006 World Cup to

Italy, many fans blamed French superstar Zidane,
red-carded off the pitch for infamously head-
butting an Italian player. But far away from the
stands, astute observers attributed Italy’s win
to something subtler: the clever analysis of data.
Winning with analytics to transform the management of scouting services that other teams
professional sports. In fact, some employ. They evaluate college players
Several of the Italian national team’s sports executives now have much even at the smallest schools and gauge
players had been evaluated at Milan to teach businesses about how to potential draft picks with criteria that
Lab, AC Milan’s biomedical research profitably capture and analyze data. other teams don’t use—low ego and high
center for gauging players’ performance These professionals have first-hand intelligence, for example. The team
and injury potential. The club considers experience of how the intelligent tracks the data points on potential
the lab a crucial advantage—a tool for use of analytics can improve asset players with a “Draft Decision Support
improving returns on the investments acquisition and management, talent System” that is updated daily with new
it has made in its high-priced two- management, operational performance, reports from scouts. Analytics staff then
legged assets. The lab tracks 60,000 and even customer service. double-check the scouts’ rankings by
data points on a player (200 on one comparing west coast ratings with
jumping motion alone) and analyzes The lessons could not be more timely.
similar east coast ratings. No detail is
the statistics to ensure his health and The traditional bases of business
overlooked as long as it can provide an
fitness. As a result, AC Milan has built competition are eroding fast. Innovation
edge. How many organizations are
one of Europe’s top soccer teams—they in products and services is more
willing to employ a radically new
are current Champions League winners challenging by the day. Product life
approach such as this to discover
and boast an impressive seven titles cycles keep shrinking, yet customer
hidden talent?
in Europe’s premier cup competition. expectations go on rising. Organizations
The differentiator? An unwavering have more and more data on hand but Operational performance can also
emphasis on using data to make better they have far less room for errors in be enhanced through analytics, as
decisions—in short, the sports world is execution, so decision making has to be the Formula One race circuit proves.
tapping into the power of analytics. sharper and better-informed. All in all, As F1 drivers jostle to be first past
these factors call for superior analytics the checkered flag, technicians now
Business people have long borrowed and deeper insights into what makes an scrutinize dense streams of real-time
insights from sports about teamwork organization work. data that pour from more than a
and leadership. But data, especially in hundred sensors on each car. It is
the form of statistics about players and For fresh ideas on how to better use
commonplace to see trackside engineers
teams, has traditionally been fodder analytics to acquire talent, business
collecting gigabytes of data from each
for sports commentaries or office chat. executives need look no further than
race, monitoring everything from engine
Only recently has hard data begun the football team, New England Patriots.
oil pressure to the stability of their
The Patriots do not use the same
Ready for Analytics?
Accenture research1 shows how the However, other Accenture research Whether using biometric data to
gap between the analytics exemplars found a significant IT capability improve customer security at airports
and their peers is widening. High- gap that company CIOs are racing or transforming merchandising for
performance businesses—those to address. For example, 21 percent major retailers, Accenture is working
that substantially outperform their of the CIOs of leading global with organizations today to help them
competitors over the long term and organizations are aggressively realize that analytics can not only
across economic, industry and developing enterprise-wide analytical drive greater returns but bring a
leadership cycles—are twice as likely infrastructures today and 76 percent new perspective to existing brands
to use analytics strategically compared plan to develop enterprise-wide and channels, offering businesses a
with the average company, and five analytics over the next three years.2 sporting chance in the race toward
times more likely to do so than low However, 78 percent report that they high performance.
performers. The high performers are remain hampered by report-driven
well aware that technology on its business intelligence systems that Source: Davenport, Thomas H. and
own cannot turn a company into an operate in silos and are ill-equipped Jeanne G. Harris, Competing on Analytics:
analytical competitor; as such, they to provide the sophisticated predictive The New Science of Winning, Harvard
put abundant time and effort into analytics a company needs to become Business School Press, Accenture,
developing robust analytical business an analytical competitor. March 2007.
processes and capabilities. 2
Source: “Cultivating high performance
through information management,”
Accenture, 2007.

cars’ chassis. Rapid data analysis helps One key insight: The approach must be companies such as Google, Tesco,
managers decide whether a car can applied consistently. The former manager Honda, Capital One and Harrah’s
pull into the pits early, whether it can of baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, Entertainment are already gaining
take on less fuel or whether its gearbox learned that lesson the hard way. The significant competitive advantage
is heating up—just a few of the factors Sox lost a pivotal game to their arch- by using analytics to out-think and
where the right data at the right rival after the manager let a star pitcher out-execute their competition.
time can help determine whether the remain in the game well past the point For organizations that have not yet
car finishes the race and where it is at which the analytical data had clearly started down this road, emulating
finally placed. indicated that the pitcher would falter. teams that know a thing or two about
successful competition can help
Similarly, most business executives Consistency isn’t the only issue: An
jumpstart their efforts.
could benefit by studying how Bolton analytical approach is only as good as
Wanderers Football Club in the United the data being used. Sports teams with
Kingdom applies analytics to turn strong analytical capabilities are acutely
its loyal fans into higher-spending sensitive to the “garbage in, garbage Data, especially in
customers. Until fairly recently, almost
all of the British team’s income came
out” maxim. That explains why several
top F1 racing teams use hardware and
the form of statistics
from ticket sales—a significant challenge software solutions that are highly about players and
since its fan base was smaller than compatible so the data their technicians
that of many of the clubs with which it are monitoring is as accurate, consistent
teams, has traditionally
competes. Today, Bolton Wanderers gets and up-to-the-minute as possible. been fodder for sports
a third of its revenues from non-revenue Another way that sports teams gain
activity—the consequence of capturing a advantage is by discovering new metrics commentaries or office
steady flow of data from the smart cards such as the popular Roland Rating that chat. Only recently
carried by its fans and then analyzing has become an accepted means of
the data using a sophisticated customer measuring a basketball player’s value has hard data begun
relationship management system. to the team. to transform the
These teams and many like them Some organizations are not waiting to
have learned what it takes to get the see what sports teams can teach them.
management of
most out of their analytics approaches. In virtually every industry and geography, professional sports.
About the Author About Accenture About Accenture
Jeanne G. Harris is an executive Information Accenture is a global management
research fellow and director of Management Services consulting, technology services and
research at Accenture’s Institute outsourcing company. Combining
for High Performance Business, Accenture Information Management unparalleled experience, comprehensive
where she leads research in the Services is a global cross-industry capabilities across all industries and
areas of information, technology, organization focused on bringing business functions, and extensive
and strategy. She is co-author with clients solutions to better manage research on the world’s most successful
Tom Davenport of Competing on their business, interact with customers companies, Accenture collaborates
Analytics: The New Science of Winning, and make strategic, financial and with clients to help them become
Harvard Business School Press, 2007. operational decisions. Working across high-performance businesses and
Accenture’s service lines and industry governments. With more than 175,000
groups, this network of 13,000 people in 49 countries, the company
professionals* specializes in generated net revenues of US$19.70
information management services billion for the fiscal year ended Aug.
including business intelligence, portals 31, 2007. Its home page is
and content management and data
management and architecture. For
more information about Accenture
Information Management Services,
*as of August 1, 2007.

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are trademarks of Accenture.