Upfront disclosure – I work for SAP as a marketer, making sure the world knows about the software and technology that SAP offers and is continually developing. I’m proud of this.
I have two boys, one of which is just 8 years old. He’s quite the character also, which is why this story is particularly entertaining (at least to me, and I hope you too).
You see, I’m passionate about technology and software, he’s passionate about baseball – and neither of us is all that passionate about college basketball. But, we have friends that are, and we were cordially invited to participate in an online March Madness bracket competition. We were told by our highly-passionate friend and his son that we didn’t have a choice but to participate (and enjoy it).
At about this same time, I received an email from an SAP colleague, Nic Smith, who is a SAP Lumira guru and very intelligent guy on analytics and data visualization among other things. The email announced his newest creation – a SAP Lumira visualization for March Madness, utilizing not only SAP Lumira but also our predictive analytics software. This was our savings grace! We could look intelligent about our bracket picks without having to do any of the research ourselves. Big win!
When I told my son about this great find, he started asking me questions…how does it work, why can it predict the winners, where does the information come from. Some of his questions were quite detailed, like “where does the software get all of the information about the teams?” and “what does it do to come up with each of the winners?”. He then wanted to know how to play around with the software – “Can I compare two other teams?”, “What does each team do better than the other team?”, etc. So, we dove into some screenshots from the blog and I explained how the different stats were set up in the software and how we could use it to compare teams and create graphs to make it easier to understand how the teams compare. The video on YouTube helped also!
It turns out that not only did this visualization make it possible for us to submit our bracket picks in the matter of seconds instead of hours, it also satisfied my son’s curiosity in stats, data, and predicting outcomes (oh, and the company I work for). It provided him with a frame of reference for what SAP does, and I am sure he will leak our little secret to his friends, and possibly even brag about how “my dad’s company told us what teams to pick”, fueling the passion of a whole new generation of data geeks.
Thank you, Nic Smith, for starting the madness!
PS. Here’s how we are doing in our bracket, after the games on 3/27/14. Well played! 😉