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Big Data Beat Down in Brazil

Germany didn’t knock Brazil out of the 2014 World Cup on its own. Big data played a huge role and everyone should have seen it coming. If you had asked us who we believed would emerge victorious we would have confidently answered, “Germany will walk out of that Belo Horizonte stadium not only with the 3 points in hand, but with a devastated nation in their wake.”  Why so confident in this prediction given what has been a very unpredictable World Cup to date?  Planning and big data have given Germany a distinct edge.

In 2013, the German Football Association (DFB) decided to implement new Big Data solutions to collect, process and analyze granular data to better understand and enhance the on-field performance of Germany’s National team. This partnership gave the Germans the ability to incorporate Big Data software deeply into their training regimen. The insights that this new software provided gave them the information necessary to create a strategic process with the capability of making precise adjustments in even the most unpredictable and chaotic circumstances.

Germany is not the only organization that can benefit from these developments in big data. Big data platforms, such as Hadoop, give any organization the ability to synthesize large amounts of data into concise insights that in many cases provide a significant competitive advantage. When these platforms are built into the foundation of an organization they not only provide companies with access to incredible real-time analytics, but also give them the ability to use their big data to formulate a larger strategic process that can prepare for the unpredictable, create order from chaos, and turn good organizations into a great ones.

This is not the first time that data has been leveraged in the world of professional sports. From the early days of money ball to the nationally recognized MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Big Data has been an integral part in the development of managerial and strategic processes in the sports world. We have seen its impact in some of America’s favorite sports like baseball, basketball, and football, but now, we are witnessing its power in the world’s favorite sport, soccer.

During the World Cup we’ve seen the playing field level out. There’s no longer a “weak” or “easy” team. Iran, Costa Rica, and Algeria usually considered weaker teams, competed against historic powers such as Argentina, Italy and Germany. The same trend can be seen in the world of business, accelerated by data. Today, in order to excel in business, as Germany has excelled in the World Cup, organizations need to become strategic about leveraging data. Let’s not forget that uncovering key data insights, like playing soccer and even succeeding at business is part science, part art.

Germany has not won a World Cup since 1990. However, since the introduction of big data analytics into their program, they have won the “group of death,” defeated Portugal, the 4th best team in the World, 4-0, and crushed the host and World soccer powerhouse, Brazil, 7-1. Don’t be surprised if Germany puts on a similar clinic in the final this Sunday. Thanks in part to big data.

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