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Life Hacker: Use Football as an Analogy to Help Your Business Understand Big Data

By James Laird

You’ve probably heard a fair bit about big data of late, and you may even think you understand it. But while we all know that big data basically means ‘lots of data’, how many of us really understand how to leverage it in an enterprise environment?

According to PROS chief operating officer Blair Crump, the practical application of big data and big data technologies is key to optimising business performance.

To start getting a better understanding of big data and how it can benefit your business, it might be helpful to think of it in terms of something you already understand.

At the Outperform conference, Crump drew a useful analogy between big data and football, likening the scouting of an unknown player by a Premier League club to a business challenging its status quo and improving its outcomes.

He said:

A few years ago, Michu was relatively unknown. Swansea went and scouted him. People wondered how the manager pulled off such a coup, and what he did was they took stats from his performances and grinded the data. They concluded that the secret was to shift him to playing [striker]. As a result, they were able to optimise his performance. Why did [the manager] have the confidence to do that? It’s all about having the data. With data you challenge the status quo and look at things from a new perspective.

Of course, designing and implementing an effective data strategy is still tricky, but if you’ve got a familiar point of comparison like football to go back to, you might find that things progress faster – and in a smoother fashion – than you thought they would. It can also be useful to have a common reference point when you’re explaining these kinds of concepts to non-IT nerds.

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