Serve up your data faster: Advantage Finance Leaders

The speed at which rich match insight is served by the All England Lawn Tennis Club at The Championship, Wimbledon is something Finance Leaders can take a lesson from.

The parallels between performance analytics at Wimbledon and performance analytics in business are more than a passing coincidence: there is no reason why companies couldn’t replicate the AELTC’s live, context-rich dissections.

Each year some 3.4 million data points are captured and input into the Wimbledon Information System.

As raw data this has limited value; the challenge is to turn it into something meaningful that the AELTC can use to deliver the world-class event experience that fans worldwide expect. Although Wimbledon is closely covered by the world’s media, the AELTC prides itself on being the primary and best source of match insight throughout the tournament, to maximise fan engagement and maintain Wimbledon’s reputation as the world’s no 1 tennis event. That means answering the questions fans might ask before they’ve had chance to ask them. In other words, it is about telling the fuller story –by pre-empting users’ needs, putting the information they need in context, and serving it up to them in the moment. So, rather than merely alerting fans to the fact that Novak Djokovic has just recorded a milestone speed of serve, it’s providing the wraparound information. In this instance whose record he has just beaten, how that performance compares to his recent average, and to the speeds he was serving at. In business this relates to setting KPIs-milestones, performance thresholds etc. -and being alerted about them as soon as they happen.
Chief finance officers could use similar technology to give managers more insight. In a business setting, chief finance officers could use similar technology to give departmental managers more of the insight they need to make quick business decisions. So if a promotion has been launched across two retail stores in the same city, and there is a disparity in their performance, the promotion team can work with the under-performing store to understand what the problem is while there is still an opportunity to turn sales around. Finance managers long to be able to deliver this kind of timely business insight, but often have been held back by an inability to consolidate and analyse data at speed and in context. That needn’t be the case. Wimbledon’s real-time insight is possible partly because the technology is provisioned through the cloud, where it is easy to access the required computing capacity on demand. That facility is open to all businesses through IBM’s Watson Analytics –a cloud-based data analytics capability from IBM which puts rapid insight directly into the hands of business decision-makers. It is readily available to anyone to use (without need for an IT expert). Better still, it can take data directly from spreadsheets, and in any combination, and turn this into actionable insight for the business.