What's in this podcast?

In this episode, Jason speaks to John Hay, the Senior Vice President of Data Analytics and Intelligence for the Boston Red Sox  

Listen to this episode on Spotify, iTunes, and Stitcher. You can also catch up on the previous episodes of the Hub & Spoken podcast when you subscribe.

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One Big Message

Because data in sports can be extremely varied between player analysis through to the day to day operations, it is vital to have a robust data team to provide valuable insights which can provide feedback and improve many different aspects of the team.

[00:36] Jon’s journey from economics to data and how he came to work start working with the Boston Red Sox

[04:56] The movie Moneyball and how aspects of it are reflected in real life

[10:40] Examining the impact of external factors on data

[13:14] How players feel about being tracked throughout a game

[19:22] Using data to elevate different areas of a sports team and it’s operations

[27:38] Separating superfans from other ticket holders

[31.05] How the Red Sox data team is set up and their different skill sets

[36:00] Looking at how data in sports will evolve in the future


A career in data opens many opportunities in different fields

As a data expert, you can have a career in many different industries and fields. Because data is everywhere, you can choose to work in an industry you are passionate about. You could work for a company, analysing customer behaviour and developing strategies to increase sales. You could work for the government, helping them make informed decisions about policy or budgeting. Or you could work for a nonprofit organisation, using data to understand social problems and design interventions to solve them. The possibilities are endless.


Presenting data to players vs other stakeholders

There is a big difference between how data is presented to players and how it is presented to other stakeholders. When it comes to players, data needs to be clear, concise, and easy to understand so that performance can be improved. But when it comes to other stakeholders, data needs to be more detailed. All of this is also dependent on the recipient – at the end of the day, data is only useful if both players and stakeholders alike are willing to take the information onboard. 


Using data for the day to day operations of a sporting team

It is no secret that data analytics have become an integral part of sport. Sport teams these days are so much more than merely a bunch of players. From helping teams scout new talent to optimising player performance, data has been key to improving the competitiveness of sports organisations.

Data isn’t merely used by sport organisations to improve player performance anymore. For day-to-day operations such as marketing and sponsorship through to ticketing, data plays an important role in many different aspects of a sporting organisation. For example, data is now used to better understand fans and create tailored marketing campaigns that speak to them directly. By understanding who their fans are and what they want, sporting teams can market themselves more effectively and boost revenue streams from sponsorships and other sources. 


Setting up a flexible data team

Most sport organisations these days recognise the importance of data and analytics in helping them make better decisions. However, many of them don’t have a dedicated data team, instead relying on people within other parts of the organisation to gather and analyse data. This can be problematic, as it can lead to silos within the organisation and a lack of flexibility when it comes to data analysis. 

It is optimal to have an integrated data team that can deal with many different scenarios. This means that data teams working for sport organisations usually need to have a variety of skill sets amongst its members.


To summarise

Data is one of the most important aspects of sport. It helps coaches and players make better decisions, track player development, analyse game footage, and so much more. Every day, sports teams are collecting more and more data in order to gain a competitive edge. But data isn’t just about the game – it can be used to help sporting organisations improve fans’ experiences, keep stakeholders informed and grow their impact beyond the game. 

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