Michael Cheika outlines value of data as Wallabies get analytical

Michael Cheika outlines value of data as Wallabies get analytical

Wallabies placing greater emphasis on analytics, leveraging technology to make objective decisions

Credit: Qantas

The Australian rugby team is deep diving into hordes of information to help deliver on the potential of a data-centric strategy, in the pursuit of on the field excellence.

Speaking at the Melbourne Business School, Head coach Michael Cheika outlined how the Wallabies are placing greater emphasis on analytics, leveraging technology to make objective decisions.

“It’s important to understand the data and believe in the technology you’re using too, so you can sell it to the players, staff and executives,” Cheika explained. “You lead by being an advocate of the product, the technology and the data.”

With only one win to show from five Rugby Championship games - a 45-20 defeat of Argentina in Canberra - perhaps data could help explain crushing defeats to New Zealand and frustrating draws with South Africa.

For Cheika regularly reviews countless hours of Wallabies footage and other data to inform his decision making.

Revealed during the Melbourne Business Analytics Conference, the sports veteran spoke about drawing on his experience as a rugby player and coach to get the most out of data to make clean decisions that maximise team performance.

Because as a studious coach, Cheika carefully labels, structures and compares data to best understand it, with rating and aligning information into different types, allowing his leadership team to make better-informed decisions as a result.

Delving deeper, Cheika and his team analyse immense volumes of player data on sleep, weight, state of mind, injuries and other factors, before explaining the information to each player to deliver improved ROI for both the individual and the team.

"You get the real value of data when you put it in layman’s terms,” he explained. “This also requires taking a flexible approach to the technology to create and analyse athlete data.

“The flexibility to integrate newer technology allows for continuous change and optimal performance.”

Offering a word of caution for businesses however, Cheika advised that leaders must never lose touch with the “feel for the game” when relying on mountains of data to improve performance, emphasising the importance of a human touch.

Value of data

Cheika’s observations at a sporting level reflect a growing trend among businesses, businesses keen to leverage the value of data both internally and externally.

Such an approach is backed up by IDC, which forecasts worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics (BDA) to reach US$150.8 billion in 2017, an increase of 12.4 per cent over 2016.

Specifically, commercial purchases of BDA-related hardware, software and services are expected to maintain a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.9 per cent through 2020 when revenues will be more than US$210 billion.

“After years of traversing the adoption S-curve, big data and business analytics solutions have finally hit mainstream,” IDC group vice president of analytics Dan Vesset added.

“BDA as an enabler of decision support and decision automation is now firmly on the radar of top executives. This category of solutions is also one of the key pillars of enabling digital transformation efforts across industries and business processes globally.”

According to Vesset, the industries that will be making the largest investments in big data and business analytics solutions in 2017 are banking, discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing, federal/central government and professional services.

Combined, these five industries will spend US$72.4 billion on BDA solutions this year and they will also be the largest spenders in 2020 when total investment will stand at US$101.5 billion.

“The three industries that comprise the financial services sector – banking, insurance, and securities and investment services – all show great promise for future spending on big data and business analytics,” IDC program director Jessica Goepfert added.

“This technology can be applied across key use cases throughout these financial institutions from fraud detection and risk management to enhancing and optimising the customer's journey.”

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