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7 December 2015

Real-time analytics influencing real-time decisions

The world championship rugby has ended and in the meanwhile, football fans are getting excited about the European championship next summer in France.

What can marketers learn from these sports? We already use the same jargon in business language: scrum, score cards, time-out, game changer, the best defense is good offense… But there is more to it than battle language. These sports are now using real-time analytics, which influences real-time decision taking.


Let us start with some rugby insights, because rugby is one of the most beautiful sports in the world. It is a rough sport with a huge respect for the opponent. This however should not inhibit you to know everything there is to know about your competitor’s action as well as assessing your own team’s game. That is why teams are using a real-time performance app with an analytics platform showing the bigger picture of the team and individual performances. In this way, decisions can be taken before, during and after the match.

Hereunder you will find what we learned from the talk on the Web Summit in Dublin (speakers: Pat Lam, Head Coach Connacht Rugby and Matt Drew, Perform). Of course, you can replace the word match by project, job, or challenge which makes this vision relevant for business life as well.

Preparing a match is like ABC:

  • Assumption: when preparing for a match certain assumptions and goals are defined. You do not know everything in advance and you cannot have an action plan for every event that might take place. Who will the opponent select for the match, what will the weather be like, will all the players be fit? Therefore, you define some assumptions and you act upon them. To link this to business life is quite simple; it is the business case or P&L analysis, which we make before setting up a new project.


  • Belief: After the assumptions and goals are defined, it is time to set out the strategy and tactics. What will the game look like and how will we tackle the different situations. Making the selection of players and deciding who will take which position.


  • Confirming: once the match is ongoing, it is checking whether the tactics work. During the match, analytics can give you insights on how the team is performing. Instructions can be given during half time and during the game, changes can be made. This is where it often differs from business life. During a rugby match you have 80 minutes to reach your goal so fast reactions are crucial. For a project, it often takes time to implement changes. Agile reactions are often delayed due to complex decision taking. On top of that, analytics are often analyzed too late.

Do you remember the match in the world championship between The Netherlands and Costa Rica? It is the match where, Louis van Gaal substituted the goalkeeper in the 120th minute for Tim Krul, just before penalty shoot-out. Thanks to analytics (remember the papers of Van Gaal), he dived every time in the right corner, saving two penalties. Thank to this, The Netherlands could go to the next round!

So to conclude, define your key performance indicators and measure them quickly. Be creative about how to gather them and do not be afraid to act upon them.

So let us kick-off and tackle the situation of not using real-time analytics for real-time decisions. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have a specific question on this.