Even before Andy Murray’s historic Wimbledon win lit up the online world and updated – if not rewrote – the record books, there was growing buzz around the potential for Big Data analytics, applied to sports or business.
Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. With the explosion of smartphones, social media and digital, the volume and variety of data is increasing exponentially. In fact 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. It comes from sources everywhere: sensors embedded in systems around the world, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, mobile GPS signals to name a few. Making sense of all this data is the challenge. Despite the growth in Big Data there are few high profile examples of how multiple streams of data might be harnessed by businesses to gain deeper insights – until now.
For 24 years IBM has been the information technology and consultancy partner to The All England Tennis Club helping them host the most prestigious tennis event in the global calendar – The Wimbledon Championships.
We collect every data point for every match across the 19 different courts to provide real-time statistics and analysis to the media, fans, players and sponsors. Some 48 IBM personnel, all high quality tennis players, collect the data, stationed by the side of the courts. They ensure continual capture, analysis and distribution of data, analytics, and graphics to the outside world.
As well as the usual state of play or players’ statistics gathered for The Championships, this year we demonstrated how bringing together multiple data sources – player performance and social sentiment – can give deeper, and in some instances, different insights.
Through IBM SlamTracker we visualise what is happening at The Championships. All of the scores, statistics and match analysis are displayed to give fans’ an interactive way of engaging with their favourite players’ performance. One of the features of SlamTracker are “the Keys to the Match”.
Using IBM’s predictive analytics technologies, analysing over eight years of Grand Slam data and over 41m data points, we have been able to determine the three KPIs for each player. Known as the Keys to the Match, they identify three things a player should focus on in order to succeed against a specific opponent. During each match performance against these Keys is tracked and streamed live through IBM SlamTracker online.
In addition in 2013, we tracked how the players were doing in the fans’ eyes to gain deeper insights into the match. Over 6.6 million tweets were analysed, a 100% increase on 2012, and the level of public support was measured through social sentiment analytics.
To illustrate how these two streams of data could provide deeper insights we developed a new way of defining the Wimbledon Champions. Combining match performance (form) with fans’ real time opinion of players on social media (status) we developed the IBM Wimbledon Leaderboard. Intriguingly when you bring together the social sentiment with performance you can see the influence social sentiment can have. Take Laura Robson for example. She didn’t make it to the final but her positive social sentiment was the highest for the women in the first week of The Championships placing her high on the Leaderboard.
Top players’ on the IBM Wimbledon Leaderboard were commemorated with the creation of souvenir trophies, created onsite at Wimbledon with 3D printing. These trophies, printed every 20 minutes, showed how real-time data analytics can help businesses make more insightful decisions and deliver what their customers really want.
As well as being a fun approach, it was a practical demonstration of how an organisation might respond to real-time customer needs. It might be that a product is performing exceptionally well financially but by looking at what the public are saying at the same time new insights can be gleaned into what customers want. Spotting trends, shifts in public opinion, along with real-time predictive analytics, can deliver deeper customer insights, faster, for businesses across every sector.
During the Wimbledon Championships we aim to bring together multiple streams of data and use predictive and social analytics technologies to give insights into the game of tennis. Outside of this, we help businesses all around the world apply the same principles to understand their customers’ needs and enable better decision making.