Data & Analytics

Second-Grade Soccer Superstars

Elite soccer is a multibillion-dollar business, and top clubs are constantly looking for the next promising young player that they can develop into a superstar. Youth academies are one way for clubs to do this, but they have to find the players with potential before they can work with them. Counterpoints talks with Chelsea Football Club’s head of research and innovation, Ben Smith, who is on an analytics-driven hunt for star material.

Train Your People to Think in Code

The future of work will entail thinking not just analytically, but also algorithmically — so companies need to retrain workers for writing code, not formulas. Organizations that manage to make code the natural language for diffusing analysis across their organizations can often grow and innovate faster than their peers.

Buyer Beware! MLB Free Agents Underperform Their Contracts

What happens when a free-agent player with a hot hand and great stats gets signed to a big, long-term contract, only to perform at a mediocre level? Counterpoints examines the problem of “shirking” in professional sports by looking at the data with Richard Paulsen, who presented his paper, “New Evidence in the Study of Shirking in Major League Baseball,” at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

How Digital Trust Drives Culture Change

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 10 min 

Beliefs and behaviors in today’s virtual world blur the definitions and boundaries of responsibility for data privacy, which is reshaping consumers’ expectations of protection. Organizations seeking to adapt their culture toward better digital trust face many challenges but can benefit from four activities in their journey toward better digital trust.

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“Out-Getting” Is the Next Great Baseball Strategy. Or Not.

In this episode of Counterpoints, the subject is baseball — specifically, the analytics-centered strategy for pitchers called out-getting, which focuses on pitchers’ efficiency rather than on when, how often, and how much they pitch. Will this practice transform baseball in the classic Moneyball tradition — or will it simply be an interesting tactic that teams sometimes use to gain a temporary advantage?

How You Can Have More Impact as a People Analyst

In the messy real world of ambiguous evidence and contentious objectives, organizational decisions — especially those about the people you’re hiring, developing, managing, and trying to retain — usually hinge on relationships and trust. So if you work in people analytics, you must learn to traffic in that currency to make an impact. It’s not enough to be right. You also have to sell your model or idea. These tactics can help.

Getting Your Employees Ready for Work in the Age of AI

  • Frontiers

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 7 min 

How can companies and employees find common ground when it comes to skill development and investment in AI capabilities? To start, senior executives should seek clarity around capability gaps and determine which skills their people need. From there, leaders should take an approach that advances those skills for human-AI collaboration.

Career Management Isn’t Just the Employee’s Job

Now that companies have replaced rigid hierarchies with flatter, more fluid structures to promote agile ways of working, they have also made it harder for employees to chart a path for growth and advancement. This challenge is also a concern for employers, who must — for the sake of engagement and retention — show high performers how they can progress within the organization. Analytics can help highlight opportunities for getting ahead.

Mapping Tom Brady’s Brain

ESPN’s Bryan Burke previews the 2019 Sloan Sports Analytics session on deep learning and quarterback decision-making. The ultimate goal: to understand how a quarterback processes information and to track the patterns their minds tend to follow.

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Self-Reports Spur Self-Reflection

The disadvantages of asking people to rate themselves are obvious. For instance: You could fake your way to a higher score, or you might lack self-awareness. But self-report surveys have advantages, too. They make data collection efficient, and nobody but you has 24-7 access to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. And here’s another benefit many people don’t consider: The act of answering the questions can promote greater self-awareness, which opens the door to self-development.

What to Do When Industry Disruption Threatens Your Career

Volatility in an industry should concern not only the companies within it but also the people who work for them. To stay ahead of developments that may disrupt your professional life, you must make two evidence-based diagnoses: How volatile is your industry? And what explains the volatility? The answers will equip you to disrupt your own career preemptively.

Five AI Solutions Transforming B2B Marketing

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 8 min 

B2B Marketing departments never have enough time, manpower, or money. AI solutions such as automated emails and predictive analytics can help companies push back against these constraints. AI marketing products can act as a force multiplier. Imagine filling your headquarters with thousands of brilliant marketers, expertly analyzing data and providing actionable insights that increase the productivity of your existing marketing team.

Can We Really Test People for Potential?

A good psychometric test can easily outperform a résumé scan and interview at predicting job performance and retention. Yet personality testing and other ways of analyzing potential present some significant challenges: For instance, not all assessments pass the sniff test, and people’s personalities vary from moment to moment, often depending on the challenge at hand. We need a finer-grained understanding of human potential.

What Would Happen if Baseball Outlawed the Shift?

Baseball teams routinely use analytics to shift fielders’ positions so they can be placed where a hitter is most likely to hit the ball. This works well for preventing the opposing team from hitting and scoring — but it’s not so great for the game, which relies on base hits and scored runs to keep fans excited and engaged. Should “shifting” be banned for the sake of the fans?

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The Surprising Value of Obvious Insights

Findings don’t have to be earth-shattering to be useful. In fact, obvious insights can help you overcome three barriers to change in your organization: resistance to new data (“But that’s not what my experience has shown”), resistance to change itself (“But that’s the way we’ve always done it”), and organizational uniqueness bias (“That will never work here”). You can also gain trust by confirming what people already believe.

The Internet of (Wonderful and Scary) Things

The benefits of smart devices are wide-ranging: the IoT-powered communication and analytics have the potential to do more than just add convenience to our daily lives, but to actually radically improve the way we work and live. But without taking the right cybersecurity measures, products can fail before they have a chance to see wide adoption.

Is It Possible to Judge Individual Talent in the NFL?

Football players who seem mediocre in college suddenly flourish as top pro performers, while hot prospects flounder when they reach the NFL. Can teams’ recruiters and coaches accurately identify the key players that will help their team win games based on the players’ past performance? In this episode of Counterpoints, Wharton professor Cade Massey, host of “Wharton Moneyball,” argues that they can’t.

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