Get your competitive edge. It’s the statement used so frequently in the sports industry. The goal has long been to empower athletes to become star performers, men and women who not only achieve big scores on the court and field, but grow fan base interest and profits. To obtain the highest level of performance, the best efficiency in every movement, and ultimately to improve player talent, organizations must turn to data.

Data Is at the Heart of On-Field Performance and Team Revenue

As pointed out by Inc.com contributor Mandy Antoniacci, date will be prioritized by sports properties with the goal of achieving the predictive edge in scoring and performance. And, data will only get larger in the future. The collection of data is not new. Many organizations are doing it even at the college level. Yet, it is the way in which these organizations will use this data and apply it that will grow and develop. The following are the most significant in emerging trends in athlete data occurring now and over the coming years.

#1: Data will aid in better discovering insights

Raw data is not valuable and not often usable by big organizations as it is. While raw data is an incredible resource, there is a growing need for organizations to utilize the right tools and resources to transform that data into bites of information or insight. Those organizations, athletes, and teams capable of taking data and transforming it will dominate well before the competition. Raw information such as stats and figures only provides a basic glimpse of how an athlete is performing. However, downloaded and digested, it can show patterns, mistakes, and methods. From this information, coaches, athletes and organizations themselves can create more refined goals, steps towards improvement, or even modifications to guidelines and rules to better enhance the outcome.

Any organization capable of taking this step – moving from gathering data to creating insights – will compete at a higher level.

#2: Usable data will become visually usable

Another key to raw data is turning it into more than just words. It needs to become visual. Imagine an athlete wearing connected technology on the court. This wearable technology reports very precise information about the player’s movements. GPS, heart rate, fitness trackers, and other connected devices are already available. Ohio University reports that wearable technology like this will be the single most important change in the industry this year.

But, that recording of information is only numbers and figures. It lacks usability in its current form. By turning these numbers into visualization, it becomes instantly usable. Data users are not IT pros and they do not have time to spend analyzing numbers. With insights visualized into data, though, the information becomes instantly usable.

When data is visually presented, it is easier to understand. Athletes can see what they are doing well. They can see what specific changes they should make. They can also see the exact moment when a change needs to occur. This provides instant feedback and real time opportunities.

One of the key trends occurring in big data within the sports industry is this ability to turn data into visually impactful information. It allows for rapid performance improvement. And, it enables athletes to quickly take steps to reduce injury risk or to make modifications to improve game play.

#3: Data will infiltrate every component of the sports industry

As Forbes contributor Leigh Steinberg stated, every professional sports organization in place today has either an analytics expert on hand or a department dedicated to it. Some teams are utilizing notes from data to make scouting decisions. The use of data like this will impact every component of the industry.

Reduce Injuries

The use of data will become effective tools for predicting injury. And, because of this, sports teams and coaches will be able to minimize the risks to players of such injuries. Data will tell the coach or the player there is a risk present and how and when to pull back. This can help players to play longer. It also ensures players are at their peak level of performance more often.


Enable Scouting

Scouting is one of the most intense components of the industry. Scouting starts at the grade school level and gets even more intense in high school and college. Now, it is not the subjective decision of the single person visiting a random game to make decisions about a player. Now, real time data can help to funnel information that is digested and turned into valuable information. Now, scouting becomes a numbers game.

Contract Negotiations

Data can also become a valuable tool to coaches and players in contract negotiations. Suddenly, there is tangible information, even in visual form, that all individuals can bring to the table to negotiate the terms of a contract. Now, the amount paid to an athlete in the pros is backed up by facts and figures, not hopes and assumptions.

Utilization of data is growing in value. It is impacting every area of the industry including everything from team performance to fan engagement with players. These trends, in areas of gathering data, transforming it, and then using it in various forms, is not the future. It is the present in many industries. Any sports team that wants to compete needs to do it now. This is a virtual digital transformation of the sports industry happening now. Will your organization compete? SAP offers the insight into athlete data you need to make that decision.

Find out more about what SAP does in the business of sports and entertainment and how we help our customers gain their competitive edge. Have a read into our brochure on the digital athlete!

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