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.
- Read Time: 7 min
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.
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.
When teams perform consistently, it’s easy to ascribe their winning (or losing) ways to the coaching staff. But the data sometimes tells a different story. So just how much credit — or blame — for team performance should coaches get? Counterpoints looks at the evidence.
- 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.
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?
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- Research Feature
- Read Time: 20 min
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.
- 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.
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.
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?
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.
MIT SMR Connections | Content Commissioned by SAS
Success in analytics requires having data you can trust. On Feb. 14, MIT SMR Connections and SAS will hold a Twitter chat on the best practices of building a foundation of trust toward data.
- Read Time: 6 min
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.
- Read Time: 3 min
According to a 2019 NewVantage Partners survey, fear of being disrupted is a leading factor for executives making heavy investments in AI and big data. While many are already seeing measurable results, companies that invest in their people and processes in tandem with technology may see the highest adoption.
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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