What baseball can teach business about Cloud Analytics

  • Richard Thelwell
  • May 20, 2015

baseball cloud analyticsEven if you’re not a sports lover, Moneyball is a great read. Written by American financial journalist Michael Lewis (of Liar’s Poker fame), it shows how an under-resourced baseball team deployed analytics to tip the odds in its favour. The message for businesses? Through the use of Cloud Analytics, companies too can do the same.

The Moneyball story is simply told. In an era when baseball teams employed ‘scouts’ to look for up-and-coming players, the Oakland Athletics baseball team decided in the late 1990s to use analytics instead. That way, it could identify—and cheaply hire—valuable players that other teams’ scouts had overlooked or rejected. In the same way, businesses too can ‘punch above their weight’, by using Cloud Analytics in situations where their competitors aren’t.

And Oakland certainly punched above their weight. Despite having a salary bill that was a fraction of that paid out by larger, richer teams, Oakland was undeniably able to level the playing field—thereby transforming its performance. But unlike baseball, where Oakland’s analytics-driven approach has now been widely copied, businesses deploying Cloud Analytics still have a considerable edge.

And where does Cloud Analytics deliver that edge? Let’s take a look.

Cloud Analytics: the insights to drive superior performance.

At its simplest, what Oakland did was to take existing performance data, and analyse it more intelligently, using evidence-based statistical techniques. In particular, Oakland believed that focusing on several hitherto under-regarded measures would pay dividends, because it viewed these measures as leading indicators of success.

So too with businesses, in many ways.

Cloud Analytics-based sales analytics, for instance, can provide detailed insights into the performance and success rate of individual sales people, sales regions, and sales managers. Comparative data on the performance of individual products is just as readily available.

baseball cloud analytics performance
In the same way that Baseball teams track the performance of their players, businesses can use cloud analytic to analyse the performance of their employees.

Cloud Analytics-based inventory analytics is another data-based potential goldmine. Especially when plugged into Amazon-style ‘people who bought this, bought that’ analyses.

It’s worth adding, too, that procurement is another area where Cloud Analytics can help businesses to punch above their weight, by identifying price and discount anomalies, and analysing spend in order to look for opportunities to combine purchases together in order to obtain greater leverage on suppliers’ pricing decisions.

In short, as at Oakland, numbers and facts will beat guesses and subjective judgements.

Cloud Analytics: breaking down the barriers.

That said, the word ‘analytics’ can be off-putting, as not every business feels that it has the in-house resource and skills that are required. At Oakland, for instance, a lot of the number-crunching turns out to have been undertaken by a statistically-trained Harvard economics graduate.

Another concern, too, is cost. In a business where budgets are already tight, prioritising analytics at a time when the business is struggling with an outdated ERP system and an elderly server may seem an odd choice.

In which case, Cloud Analytics could well be the way forward.

cloud analytics break barriers
Cloud Analytics help break down many of the traditional barriers to Business Intelligence, such as cost and technical expertise. 

Simple ‘point and click’ tools make self-serve reporting a breeze, for instance, delivering analytics to the end user without needing to involve IT staff or skilled specialists.

Moreover, as the name Cloud Analytics suggests, all the heavy lifting is done in the Cloud, meaning that there are no additional servers or software to buy, and that the workload on your existing server and IT infrastructure is unchanged—even the data warehouse is located in the Cloud.

And as for cost, the only upfront cost is an initial setup fee—after that, your Cloud Analytics solution is available through a simple monthly subscription.

In short, analytics has never been more accessible.

So to find out more, check out our case studies, or download the free e-book below.