Old school vs. new school thinkers
One similarity between sports organizations and other enterprises is the disconnect between IT and the business. Speakers at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference said statistical experts need to be able to communicate relevant information to players, coaches and staff in order for the organization to benefit from technology and analytics.
“Analytics are only useful [if] they can be communicated. People [who] can communicate what they find will be most helpful to the process,” says Scott Pioli, assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons. Besides the statistical language barrier, old school thinkers need to come into the fold of the new technology and systems that are becoming part of the game.
Eakins said he’s still an old-school coach, but has become more open to using data analysis to steer his decisions. “The most important thing is using every resource you can to get better, whether it’s managers evaluating talent or coaches putting together systems,” he said.
Kyle Dubas, assistant general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, said the team’s R&D group challenges him to be better at his job. “When all facets are working in lockstep, that’s when you can see the separation [from] using data and analytics. We’ll find ways to beat other teams, out-draft teams or do better in [player] development.”