OPINION by Phil Clarke, Managing Director, The Sports Office.
“Many of us would recognise that advances in technology and the breath-taking growth of the so-called connected world mean we now live in an era like no other.
A basic example is that in the year 2000 there were 200 million people with email accounts. Today there are over 3.5 billion. Since the start of the new millenium, a whole generation has grown-up using social media as well as shopping and consuming a range of content online. The way we live, communicate and even behave has been transformed.
Another facet of this is the vast amount of data that we are now presented with or informed that we could have access to. This can certainly be overwhelming and the individual can feel bombarded with information.
However, all is not lost. If managed and used intelligently, these vast volumes of data can help us focus our endeavours into the right areas and give us a significant advantage in whatever we are seeking to achieve. We are told, for example, that weather forecasting has improved by over 350% over the last 25 years by using computer systems to intelligently analyse climate and meteorological data.
This principle certainly applies in the world of high performance sport and here at The Sports Office our aim is to help you with the collection and the management of these huge quantities of data and information so that it becomes something useful and indeed very powerful for sports performance management.
We have developed a range of online-based systems which enable sporting organisations to analyse their performance data. They can ask the key questions, find the right answers and make critical decisions quickly and easily.
Our systems can show what has happened and what is happening during the course of performance activities . They enable the setting of objectives, viewing progress against these and gaining insight to help understand what is most likely to happen in future.
This is SPORTING INTELLIGENCE and creates a competitive advantage.
Many sporting teams and organisations simply strive to collect more information than ever before. We believe their focus should be on gaining greater knowledge and generating such SPORTING INTELLIGENCE from this to help them do what they do even more successfully.
There are some in sport who are sceptical about the usefulness of such an approach and regard it as an over-reliance on IT. To them, we would say we do not suggest becoming a slave to technology.
Computers are very good making calculations, doing this consistently and doing it without becoming tired or emotional. However, what they are not good at is tasks that require creativity or imagination. So we should not worship at the altar of technology nor be frightened by it.
We believe the best approach is one that does not create a competition between science and art, rather it is one that supports and empowers those with ideas and critical thinking to use data management technology to test, inform and refine their new approaches and methods of delivering elite sporting performance.
Leading sporting organisations are already encouraging their staff to do this and do what people do much better than computers, which is producing the ground-breaking ideas about how to improve the performance of players and athletes and then using their data to test whether or not this works.
Anybody with a pension or investment will have read the line that ‘past performance is not indicative of future results’.
Is this true in sport?
Intelligent information management can help us find out.”