Moneyball II: Using analytics to understand Red Sox fans

Sourced from straighttalk.hcltech.com

By Brian Shield, Chief Information Officer, Boston Red Sox
bobmwallace@comcast.net

By Brian Shield, Chief Information Officer, Boston Red Sox

Talk about perfect timing. I joined the Red Sox in August 2013, just as the team’s 10-year, 820-game sell-out streak had come to an end, following the team’s unceremonious fall from grace late in the 2012 season. For the Red Sox, who had been regular pennant contenders and had won two World Series in the previous decade, 2012 was their first losing season since 1997 and their worst season since 1965. The executive management of the team—which was founded in 1901 and has played at America’s oldest baseball park since 1912—had decided that it was time for a digital transformation.

I came to the Red Sox from The Weather Channel, where I was CIO for almost 15 years. To the average person, the only similarity between baseball and weather might be their unpredictability. To my surprise, however, I found many things in common between the Red Sox and my former company. Both organizations are iconic consumer brands with well-known stars. They have loyal and often zealous followers, have limited “traditional” competition in their respective markets, and have understandably invested heavily in the consumer-facing side of the business.

In both instances, however, success had led to some technical complacency, with under-investment in the engine that fuels all businesses today—data—becoming a handicap in the face of changing market dynamics.  At The Weather Channel, I ultimately was responsible for one of the world’s largest cross-platform digital properties, big “weather” data environments, and fully distributed cable networks.  But that only happened as rapid advances in the breadth and quality of weather data, imagery, and availability hastened the need for changes in digital weather products – a digital impetus that baseball had lacked.

As businesses in many industries around the world are learning, the promise of their digital transformation efforts lies in collecting and analyzing data on customers’ behavior in order to provide them with products and services tailored to their individual needs. Digital transformation also has a profound impact on internal operations, and it allows for quick experimentation and evaluation of new business processes.  The challenge, however, is not to get carried away with digitization of everything and to maintain traditions and “analog” ways of doing things that still provide value to 21st-century customers.  At the Red Sox, that means preserving what’s best in baseball and historic Fenway Park while leveraging what’s best in technology.

A 360-Degree View of the Customer

While the movie Moneyball, based on Michael Lewis’s 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, brought the use of data analytics (or in baseball parlance, “sabermetrics”) to the informed baseball fan, the analysis primarily focused on evaluating talent.  The book recounts how the Oakland Athletics successfully substituted player assessments based on traditional baseball metrics (for example, batting average, runs batted in, or a pitcher’s wins and losses, not to mention subjective “gut feelings”),  with “newer” metrics that improve predictive analytics. This allowed the A’s to build a winning team on a relatively low budget, and the story has become a famous foundational tale of the “big data” movement. But as yet there has been no Moneyball-like customer-analysis story, to demonstrate the successful application of analytics to better serve baseball fans.

In the sports world, baseball is not unique in its limited knowledge of its customer base.  According to one recent estimate, U.S. sports teams, on average, know less than 5% of their fans. For the Red Sox, this would imply having limited knowledge of about 400k fans out of the 7 million-plus adults in New England who consider themselves citizens of “Red Sox Nation.”

While traditional market segmentation efforts – the young fan who attends games frequently, the small business owner who entertains clients at games, etc. – provide a helpful window onto the sporting-fan population, such basic scrutiny won’t get you to first base in today’s digital age.  Today, we must understand and serve fans’ individual needs.  For that, we must have a 360-degree knowledge of each customer.

Basically, sports franchises have had two key obstacles to more fully understanding the fan. One was that teams are historically one step removed from the buyer, who may have purchased a ticket or merchandise from any one of a variety of channels and middlemen. The other was that the data we collected was coming from disparate data sources and housed in disparate databases.  The result was that you know that X has been a season ticket holder for Y years, but you probably don’t know how old he (or she) is; his family status; how many games he, as holder of the season tickets, personally attends; his concession habits; etc.  In short, sports franchises knew how many people purchased tickets and where they sat, but little else about them.

The realization that past data practices are woefully inadequate in today’s digital world is certainly not limited to sports.  Even many of the companies that today are considered “big data” powerhouses were anything but that just a few short years ago.  For example, as the 21stcentury rolled around, only limited historical weather data was captured at The Weather Channel.  Why capture information on the storm that just passed? Or so the reasoning went. As digital platforms and learning systems evolved, however, so did the need for more granular and more diverse data.

For the Red Sox to match its player analytics with data-driven, fan-level analytics required a comprehensive approach. We needed to create new capabilities in the IT function; transform our data collection and integration practices to emphasize the importance of data analytics and reporting; and offer new digitally enabled fan-facing programs.

New Skills and a New Organization

The first step in transforming our knowledge of our customers was to create a data-services team.  The sole focus of this small group is data, more specifically, data on our customers. To staff it, we hired people with skills and expertise that we hadn’t had, including a data architect, a sports-oriented CRM analyst, and business analytics and reporting specialists.

In addition to creating the data-services group, we had to evolve our IT organization.  Like any championship-caliber team, we needed to adapt to changes in expectations, team chemistry, and our portfolio of skills.  To accomplish this, we took a page from how successful baseball teams are built.  We designed our team by emphasizing strong leadership and coaching, comprised of a few all-stars, free agents in the form of consultants, utility players with key differentiated skills, new experienced players from outside of our club, and a young and hungry farm system comprising part-time resources and select interns.

It’s worth noting that because in today’s digital age IT teams need to be lean, adaptable, and skilled in using leading-edge solutions, sports organizations increasingly look to outside industries for their technology professionals, rather than relying on the traditional internal farm system. The Oakland Athletics’ Billy Beane, the central character of Moneyball, was absolutely right when he told the Wall Street Journal a couple years ago: “Increased demand for technical skills required to interpret the ‘big data’ will dramatically change the composition and demographics of front offices… [S]port will no longer be the exclusive domain of ‘insiders,’ and the business will be better for it.” In other words, insularity is your worst enemy in a fast-changing digital world.

Accordingly, at the Red Sox we rounded out our “virtual” team by cultivating key relationships with local colleges and universities to provide critical external insight, and we engaged with a few key strategic partners to effectively balance the buy-versus-build equation.

A Focus on Data Collection and Analysis

In parallel with our people changes, we significantly upgraded the infrastructure supporting the collection and analysis of our data.  The nucleus of this infrastructure investment was a state-of the-art enterprise data warehouse, complemented by custom-designed CRM applications, leading-edge reporting tools, and the integration of the data warehouse with a sophisticated, third-party fan-engagement platform.

When you start focusing on the data, a very important aspect of digital transformation becomes clear to everybody in the organization: quality beats quantity every time. Until you can effectively harness the data, analytics is just a dream.  In our case, there are more than ten different ways for someone to buy a ticket to attend a Red Sox game.  This means we have ten ways by which an error can occur.  Add to that the duplication of customer data, and you have the makings of a serious data-quality problem.

We have made progress in our data governance and quality management efforts, but it’s a journey that is never complete.   What’s critical is that we have a commitment to data integrity and a process to identify and address data inaccuracies at both the beginning and end of each data ingest and integration process.

Enhancing the Fan Experience

Digital transformation also means adding a digital layer on top of the physical reality of your enterprise. For us – and most importantly, for our fans—the physical reality is America’s oldest and most loved ballpark, Fenway Park. We started there with the basics—collaborating with the Major League Baseball organization (MLB) to install a Wi-Fi network throughout the park. By the mid-season All-Star break of 2015, working through the snowiest winter in Boston’s history, we finally completed the installation.

Connectivity is like oxygen in today’s digital age.  Customers everywhere expect connectivity to be ubiquitous, in high concentrations, and readily available.  Connectivity, however, is but a means to an end. It’s what you do with it that determines user satisfaction. We are still early in our digital journey when it comes to creating compelling digital products and services that will both simplify and enhance the fan experience.

We are leveraging the capabilities of the MLB Ballpark mobile application, which supports digital ticketing, in-game seat upgrades, offers and promotions, and loyalty rewards programs.  We have created a virtual-reality site called Kid Concourse, where young fans can visit Fenway online – including the VR Dugout. We’re currently considering other fan enhancements that leverage such technologies as RFID (for example, team jerseys embedded with an RFID chip that would allow fans wearing them to receive discounts on concessions and merchandise), augmented reality (to provide historical information for landmarks around Fenway Park), and wayfinding kiosks (to help fans find their seats and learn about concession options), among others.

These are all examples of how digital technology operates on two levels – in the present and in the future. It provides more convenience and extra services to customers, increasing their satisfaction, their loyalty, and what they spend on your services. But it also facilitates a long-term perspective that provides you with more information on customers’ behavior so you can serve them better in the future.

Digital applications not only add a whole new dimension to fans’ experience in the specific physical environment of the baseball park; apps can also extend that experience to include fans (and potential fans) at home or on the move.  For example, we have a very successful tour program at Fenway Park. Should we start offering a virtual-reality tour for anyone with an Internet connection or appropriate headsets?

The opportunities that digital transformation brings are just about limitless and there are probably quite a few we haven’t thought about.  (If you have suggestions, let us know at DigitalIdeas@RedSox.com).

But so far, we have made a great deal of progress in our journey to build a 360-degree view of our fans. This is the exciting nature of digital transformation. It’s a never-ending quest, always providing new opportunities to take your game—together with employees, partners, and customers—to the next level.  As our digital strategy evolves, our understanding of Red Sox Nation – who we believe are the best fans in major league baseball – will continue to evolve.  We expect this understanding to help fuel a new generation of digital fan amenities that will complement the wonderful game of baseball and the charm of Fenway Park.

Tackling Tech: The NFL – Taking Tech to the Bank

Sourced from Patriots.com

By Bob Wallace
Tackling Tech
bobmwallace@comcast.net

 

Before the NFL heads into the 2016 exhibition season, remember to keep your eyes wide open for the following, tech-driven works-in-progress across the league. Together they will define how we consume America’s game in the stands and at home for many years to come.

They will also go a long way to determining the financial health of the teams and league and elevating fan engagement for those at the game and watching from home.

1. Next-Gen Stadiums. These facilities, both under construction and hosting major improvements, promise to enhance the fan experience for those in the stands. Connected stadiums refers to facilities equipped with advanced Wi-Fi networks that both enable game day apps and collected voluminous data on fans that can be analyzed using analytics for a wide array of marketing and sales purposes.

Beyond robust wireless connectivity, next-gen stadiums such as the new home of the Atlanta Falcons is being equipped with super high-def big screens that can be viewed from any angle without glare. The Jacksonville Jaguars are amidst an installation with vendor NanoLumens and the New England Patriots already feature these viewing enhancements which benefit fans and sponsors. There was a time when leaving your seat for concessions meant disconnecting from the game as only tiny screens or radio were available on the concourse.

There’s also a growing focus on viewing for fans not in their seats. With that in mind, the new Falcon’s home will boast some 300-plus TVs throughout the facility – an approach followed in newer stadiums as the homes of the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers respectively.

2. Watching from Home. Expect the content super rich NFL to continue to parse out original series and live game casts to a longer list of delivery options be they on TV or online. It has been roughly a year since the league brought on its first ever chief content officer – an expert in youth programming and non- traditional viewing options (Microsoft Xbox).

The last year alone has seen Yahoo live-stream a regular season game free and internationally, deals with social media outlets (Google/SnapChat) for non-game footage, All or Nothing on Amazon, and Thursday Night Football (10 games) via Twitter. This share-the-wealth approach has/is providing the NFL with experience and data on different distribution channels used for varying types of content.

3. The Data Dilemma. Having completed a full NFL season of collecting player data through RFID chips in players’ shoulder pads with tech partner Zebra Technologies, the league has turned the voluminous data to its teams. So how will it be used? Initially the intent seemed to be to create next-gen stats, such as how fast (MPH) a receiver ran on a TD catch and run.

Now it seems the data could be used to measure player performance and much more beyond stats for fans. How the teams choose to use this needs-to-be-analyzed mountain of data is certainly worth watching as we enter the 2016-17 season. And what of those next-gen stats that seem to be spares if you’re watching from home on a big screen? They would help elevate the viewing experience and enrich the game casts beyond what the broadcasting talent has to offer.

4. Wireless Advances. You can’t talk about the fan experience and data collection without discussing the ongoing upgrades across the league to stadium Wi-Fi and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS). Several teams are in the process of upgrading or exploring upgrades to current systems as per the league’s CIO while others – Packers, Bills etc. – just finished their first season with the benefits of wireless nets brought to older stadiums.

After all, wireless is the enabling technology for game-day apps that let fans get everything from the latest traffic and parking conditions to the ability to order concessions from their seats and pick up their purchases at the shortest lines. Add an analytics package to these networks and you can apply business brains to the tech brawn and determine new and better ways to monetize the fan.

5. Apps. This time last year, the NFL was amidst an overhaul/consolidation of its pay apps, resulting in the domestic version of GamePass. Given the ability to launch Super Bowl and draft-specific apps, expect new introductions before the regular season begins. Remember, even free apps generate revenue through sponsorships, gateways to Pro Shops and fan data.

6. Virtual Reality Check. Yes, virtual reality has been pitched as changing the way football – and other sports – function. It’s true that several QBs use VR to augment their training with more reps while avoiding the wear and tear of live action. And though the tech portends to advance the way virtual seats are sold and the game is watched from home, don’t expect these changes soon. VR will make inroads in the way video content clips are shot and used first, followed by the greater promise down the road.

7. The Widening World of Sports (TV). In many ways, 2016 will be a year of exploration for the content crew at the NFL with its recent forays into streaming of game cast or original series set up as a one-time or one-year arrangements, meaning they can be renewed or replaced next year. Changing the channels means maximum flexibility for the league in expanding its distribution strategy.

And what might we see from AT&T, which acquired DirecTV which has the exclusive rights to the popular NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-market game package (and the no-dish online only version)??

Note that of late, the league has been focusing on delivery deals for non-game content, a marked expansion of its approach has brought in streamers such as Amazon and social media giants such as Google (for YouTube) highlights. Also note that the NFL has eliminated its one-time ban of streamer smartphone Periscope which will now be used as part of the Twitter streaming of Thursday Night Football games this season.

8. Partner Programs. Last, but very far from least, are programs that team up NFL teams with knowledge of their fans with partners to boost sales via innovative promotion programs that reward members in discounts and freebies for select products of their sponsors. The Patriots program with Dunkin Donuts, which allows consumers to have purchases to be applied to their season ticket balance and more is a great example.

Those entities that know enough about their customers – through collected and analyzed data – are well posed to launch these next level partner programs. That’s likely one of the skills customers of the recently spun off Kraft Analytics Group (KAGR) can hear about as the end result of optimized data (analytics and strategic marketing). Read

THE BOTTOM LINE

Sure, the league is facing many more issues and exploring many more opportunities than those listed above. Forward-thinking teams are looking to harness tech to expand their brands and see challenges as part of a longer to-do list that benefits franchises and their fans.

The only constant here is change. And you can take that to the bank.

Stay tuned!

Bob Wallace is a technology journalist with over 30 years of experience explaining how new services, apps, consumer electronic devices and video sources are reshaping the world of communications as we know it. Wallace has specific expertise in explaining how and why advances in technology redefine the way sports fans interact with their league, teams, players and each other. He’s the Founder of Fast Forward Thinking LLC.

Unified Communications

Patriots Stay Ahead of the Game with Unified Communications

If you follow football at all, you’ll notice this is a seemingly great year for the New England Patriots. With an 10-2 overall win-to-loss ratio, the Patriots are going into Game 14 against the Houston Texans with a strong upper hand despite not having the home field advantage. How do they maintain such a strong lead on the field? Easy, they utilize unified communications blended with a perfected strategy.

Football is the Ultimate in Unified Communications

Sports in general are a very interesting concept. Whether it’s hockey, baseball, soccer, or, of course, football, numerous people from all walks of life come together to form a team, all working towards a common goal: to win the game. So how does all this great talent sync up? We all know that football teams have playbooks that outline the multiple plays a team can make during a game. They study it, practice it, and implement it over and over again in order to get it perfected. They use signals on the field to indicate their next move to the player downwind and communicate with each other via hidden ear pieces in their helmets. They have the general managers (and sometimes team owners) eyes looking over the field to get a bird’s eye view of the game, relaying information down to the head coach and ultimately into the ears of the players on the field. They have huddles to discuss their next plan of action and can call timeouts to review or change the strategy. It’s a very well oiled machine.

Gaining the Competitive Advantage

When you implement unified communications in your workplace, you suddenly gain a competitive advantage in your market. Businesses experiencing poor communication and planning are less efficient and lack the increased revenue needed to stay in the game. They often have trouble syncing up, leading to decreased quality and customer satisfaction. Instead of studying the playbook and working with their coworkers to win the game, they decide to play in the dark and ultimately lose the game. That’s bad for a business (think Cleveland Browns bad.) By having unified communications, your team mates can all be on the same page in regards to your business strategy. You’ll be able to connect with your clients on a higher level and meet their expectations more effectively, leading you to win the game!

Don’t Place Yourself in a Position to Lose

So, in terms of football, whose team would you rather play for: The Cleveland Browns, playing in the dark without any real sense of direction, or the New England Patriots, effectively communicating with each other to stay ahead of the game? The answer seems simple.

watch sports

How Technology Has Changed the Way We Watch Sports

It’s no secret that technology has touched every facet of our lives, from dating to gambling to how we keep tabs on our weight. There is no surprise then that technology has revolutionized the world of sports. Imagine, there is barely any videotape available from the first Superbowl! Now you could Google any game and watch it on YouTube or the channel it originally aired on. Sports technology has been growing for decades to include the amazing innovations we have today. Below we give examples of how technology has changed the way we watch sports.

High Definition Television as Sports Technology

The quality of the graphics, visual aids and statistics of a sporting event viewed on a high definition television are rivaled only by going to the game in person. Even then, you don’t get the extreme close ups and surround sound. It has been suggested that high definition television has been responsible for declining ticket sales. It’s not surprising since you can get such an amazing view of the game without paying for tickets, buying expensive snacks and having to wait in line for the bathroom!

Mobile Sports Technology

Sports broadcasting companies now offer bundling of sports that can be viewed through several devices with the same account. Get on-demand coverage by watching through your cable provider, as well as login to a smartphone or tablet to get the same material. Watch a variety of sports as long as you are connected to the Internet, from anywhere in the world at any time of day from your mobile device or a Smart TV.

Statcast Technology for Baseball Games

Statcast is a revolutionary new technology for baseball games that collects data over a series of high-resolution optical cameras and radar equipment. These cameras track the precise motions and location of the baseball along with every player on the field. This results in a comprehensive list of stats from the acceleration and speed of the ball, time from throw to catch, speed of throws and route efficiency. Viewers additionally see a report of the base runners’ reaction times, hitters’ exit velocities and launch angle measurements. In general, every movement that takes place from the pitcher, batter and all other players gets measured, then reported on the screen. More than 30 Major League ballparks have adopted Statcast and managers are using it as a training tool with players.

Social Media

Sites like Twitter and Facebook have made it so you’re never watching the game alone. People can post and Tweet in real time as the events of the game unfold and comment back and forth. Social media and blogging allow for columnists, athletes, beat writers and the fans to engage in discourse. Players especially get a chance to speak to their fans directly, although sometimes this can get messy. Regardless, it is amazing to think what times would have been like if Babe Ruth could Tweet what was on his mind back in the day.

football strategy

Patriots New Strategy

Last month, we heard about a new Patriots strategy that is said to be one of the best. One coach calls it a “genius” plan, but is it just an inflated plan for a much-needed distraction? We break down the Patriots new strategy to see if it really as grand as boasted by many.

Let’s face it: the Patriots are on fire already this season, and we are only a few games in. By the third game, the rivals had sacked Tom Brady only six times and the team scored a record 119 points. That is the most points ever in the first three games in the team’s history. So, what gives? Where is the vigor coming from? Does Brady have something to prove after a months-long circus surrounding the Super Bowl “Inflate Gate” Scandal.

While Brady is the one with the recognition for his impeccable performance, much of his success is due to his protective front line. The team took a new approach to the defensive rotation this season. Instead of putting in five players and hoping the relationship builds after a few games or so, the Pats rotate them out frequently. During the first five possessions, the same line combination was not used at all. The feverish swapping and reconfiguring of the line led to a victory over Pittsburgh. In fact, the innovative strategy is so impressive that Rick Trickett, the Florida State offensive line coach, called the strategy “genius.”

Will it last? Right now, it appears as if the Pats don’t have a choice. A handful of key players have been indisposed. The Patriots had no other choice, and it appears to be paying off in a big way. The question is whether or not the team will return to the original lineup once the players are all on the mend.

We hope to see more of the strategy in the upcoming games. Even though it looks like a lot of random shuffle to most, Dave DeGuglielmo promises there is a method behind his reasoning and rotating lineup. DeGuglielmo has a secret for why the players go where they do and at what times, but we will not likely discover why any time soon. As long as it works, he will likely continue to employ the new strategy.

To get a good look at the new Patriots strategy, don’t miss the upcoming games this fall.

  • At Cowboys on October 11th at 4:25 PM ET on CBS
  • At Colt on October 18th at 8:30 PM ET on NBC
  • Jets, October 25th at 1:00 PM ET on CBS
  • Dolphins, October 29th at 8:25 PM ET on CBS and NFL Network
  • Redskins, November 8th at 1:00 PM ET on FOX
  • At Giants on November 15th at 4:25 PM ET on CBS
  • Bills, November 23rd at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN
  • At Broncos, November 29th at 8:30 PM on NBC
virtual reality

How the Patriots Will Use Virtual Reality

This football season, the New England Patriots will have another way of being tracked on the field. Instead of worrying about another “deflategate”, Tom Brady and his teammates will be using virtual reality to enhance their training. The Patriots are one of three pro teams working with a Silicon Valley company called STRIVR Labs, who create immersive sports experiences. The 49ers, Cowboys and several college teams have already gotten on board with the new virtual reality technology that is expected to help the players excel in their training.

About STRIVR

STRIVR Labs was founded earlier this year by Jeremy Bailenson, the director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, along with Derek Belch. Belch has used the insight he gained from his experience as a kicker and assistant football coach at Stanford, and was the first to test virtual football training at the University. The technology involves a 360-camera being positioned near the quarterback so that footage from his point of view is captured. Once off the field, the players strap on headsets that look like oversized ski goggles, which let them review the practice in a virtual reality world. Players can turn their heads and look around the field to see how the plays unfold from the point of view of the quarterback. Belch says that the goal is not to replace traditional film watching, but to compliment it with a tool that can effectively train and help players learn quicker.

Benefits of Virtual Reality in Football

Before the STRIVR technology, coaches had likened the virtual reality products on the market to glorified video games. Now, coaches are able to see action from the eyes of the quarterback and get a better handle on why they may be struggling with particular plays. Coaches can analyze what the players are looking at, so that on offensive plays where a quarterback always looks the wrong way, they can eliminate those plays from his repertoire.

Quarterbacks also get the opportunity to have a new perspective that goes beyond reviewing plays virtually. With this innovative technology, a quarterback may dissect his performance during practice more thoroughly, as well as turn left or right to analyze his throwing mechanics or downward to study his footwork.

The Future of STRIVR Virtual Reality

STRIVR technology has taken off, with many college teams taking advantage of its benefits. Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Dartmouth, Auburn, Stanford and Clemson started working with the company this year. So far they are the only virtual reality firm to work with NFL clubs to make footage with real players instead of avatars. The company expects to add about 12 professional teams and 10 more colleges to the list in the upcoming months. Coaches are already toying with the idea of how other positions on the field can benefit from the system, as well as how it can familiarize players with their opponents’ tactics. No matter which team you play for, one thing can be agreed upon, the future of football technology is here and it is here to stay.

Boston Red Sox

How Technology Boosts the Boston Red Sox’s Game

As technology continues to evolve and grow, sports teams are taking advantage of this to boost their team’s stats – especially the Boston Red Sox.

Steve Conley, director of IT for the Boston Red Sox, and his IT team provide sports technology tools that allow the baseball players to perform at their highest level, both on and off the field.

According to Conley, the Boston Red Sox IT department’s greatest thing they put together was the video system, which has expanded and evolved over time since it’s creation 10 years ago. The team carries the system with them on the road where they capture every at-bat situation, and after at-bat situation. The players can then review it on a computer directly after and will be able to learn from their mistakes. Not only can they watch themselves at-bat and after batting, but they also have every batter-pitcher breakdown statistic in the Major Leagues since 2004 to look at, so they can look up any pitcher on any count to see if they can get an edge on the competition. Many of the players use that tool extensively, Conley said.

So, what separates the technology of sports from other industry-specific IT jobs? There are certain job tasks that specialize when it comes to sports where you have to handle the needs that are stadium-specific. Although, there is a great amount of overlap when it comes to technology of sports and general IT needs. Conley said about 15% of what the Boston Red Sox IT department does is specific to sports, baseball in particular, and the remaining 85% are the IT needs that you would find regardless of industry.

Technology is changing the way the Boston Red Sox and many other teams play sports and is bettering their game. The video system created by Steve Conley and his IT team is one technology tool that has helped the Red Sox up its game and become an ever better baseball team.

2015 New England Patriots' Draft

The New England Patriots’ Draft

Looking to fill in some big holes in their offensive line as well as having a serious need for a cornerback, a linebacker and a defensive tackle, for the New England Patriots’ draft, they had a very specific list of needs they sought to fill to have a strong, adaptive roster.

 

They were able to fill the position for a defensive tackle straightaway in the first round with former Texas linesman Malcolm Brown, who was humble at the press conference until he boasted that the team was going to get the “best player ever drafted,” meaning him. Time will tell if that’s indeed the case.

 

The second round was another defensive one as Jordan Richard of Stanford joined the team as a safety. Known to be smart among his former teammates (Stanford grads, no less), the Patriots can look forward to a player who is quick and agile and plays for the love of the game, or so he claims. NBC Sports’ Josh Norris is less charmed, though, thinking that the Patriots would have been better off waiting to get someone like him later in the draft.

 

The Patriots met their need for a linebacker in round three as Geneo Grissom was recruited, a player who struck observers as very humble and emotional on hearing the news. Grissom is so eager to play, he claims he would have played any position at all just for a seat at the table. He is apparently looking forward to moving to New England, as he is a big Bruins fan.

 

The fourth round was the first in which the offense got some attention with Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason, as well as defensive end Trey Flowers, who’s mission in life is to stop the other team’s runs. Georgia’s Mason is seen by many as the best player the Patriots have gained in this draft; in the words of Josh Norris, “he’s the best run blocker in the entire draft. He’s an absolute mauler … he’s nasty.” Florida’s Jackson is also generally seen as a strong player, and oddly enough he and Mason have been friends ever since they briefly attended school together in Georgia before Jackson went to the Sunshine State.

 

Long snapper Joe Cardona was picked up in the fifth round. He grew up watching the Patriots play and is raring to go. He claims he had a feeling New England would be his new home since they were one of the only teams looking for a snapper.

 

The sixth round saw the acquisition of tight end, AJ Derby, and a second linebacker, Matt Welsh. Two relatively unknown players, they are both waiting to make their mark on the game and are pumped for the opportunity.

 

The elusive cornerback was finally recruited in round seven. Darryl Roberts describes himself as “a little versatile. I can play press, a little zone.” He looks to be a great addition to the team and is likely to make a real name for himself in New England. The last pick of the season, defensive end Xzavier Dickson, is a very experienced, tough player who looks to add some serious speed to the team.

 

NCGIT becomes your outsourced CIO. We’ll work with management to create an overall business strategy that allows technology to overcome your business challenges. The end result of partnering with our information technology team? You’ll make more money, save time, and reach your business goals.

Baseball Technology

How the Boston Red Sox Use Technology to Increase Their Batting Average

If you’ve seen the movie Moneyball, you’ll remember that the Oakland A’s general manager bought into the idea of using computer programs, statistics and graphs to decipher which players would make up the best team. This strategy lead the A’a to the Championship. The end of the film alluded to the Red Sox employing the same formula to take their team to the top after being plagued by the “Curse of the Bambino” for decades. While this method of technology is one way the Red Sox boosted their team’s record, there is now a new technology being used to increase the team’s batting average and overall performance.

Major League Baseball Advanced Media Technology

Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) is a new technology used during MLB games that is a new way of analyzing plays. It works by combining radar, algorithms that crunch data and high-end cameras to analyze and provide clarification any play with meticulous detail and accuracy.

What MLBAM Does

With Major League Baseball Advanced Media, action is slowed down and viewed through a player tracker, and on the screen is a wealth of metrics, including how many miles per hour the pitch was thrown, its perceived velocity and rotations per minute. The hitter’s exit velocity is then displayed, along with how many feet the closest fielder is from first base, how many seconds it takes him to move to pick up the ball and how many feet away it is from him when he scoops it up. The information is extremely detailed down to the second and inch.

All-New Information

 Major League Baseball Advanced Media is creating data that no one has ever had access to in the past, especially the movement of outfielders. The information is useful because if you can correlate the position of every outfielder with pitches and batter performance, eventually managers and players will be able to see patterns that they can work into their game strategies. By having a player move over a couple feet in the outfield when particular pitchers and batters are up against one another, this could be the difference between winning and losing a game. Not only will it work for field positions, but with batters as well. While speed and pitch types have been analyzed for years, all this detailed data will give hitting coaches a host of new ways to get their team’s batting average up.

Moving Into the Future

Major league baseball had already made a change when it introduced instant replay, taking away some of the excitement of mangers kicking dirt at umpires when disagreeing with a call. While traditionalists didn’t like this, the majority of reviewed calls have been overturned. Now MLBAM technology will make the game evolve even more. Statistics have always been a huge part of baseball, and with all this new data, true baseball fans will be able to get deeper into stats, using them to criticize or defend plays and their favorite teams. It will make the jobs of managers and scouts easier and more accurate, and will help players improve their game in ways they never thought of before this technology came about.

Sports events in Boston

The Boston Sports Scene

Boston is the ideal city for touring historical sites, getting good food, and especially for catching a sporting event. The city is well-known for housing World Series Champs, the Red Sox, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Beantown has something for everyone, from running, to lacrosse to hockey and basketball. We may be technology people, but we’re into the local sports scene! If you’re looking for a getaway to catch your favorite games, check out all the upcoming sporting events in Boston:

Boston Bruins Hockey

Fans of the ice will love watching the 5 time NHL Stanley Cup champs fight for the pennant at the TD Garden. The Bruins are well respected in the hockey world, and were the first team to be awarded a franchise in the NHL back in 1924. For a list of 2015 home games at the TD Garden, visit www.boston.worldweb.com/Events/SportingEvents/

The Boston Marathon

For runners who love going the distance, but may not have qualified, come down and cheer on the racers of one of the oldest marathon events. The Boston Marathon is the most prestigious marathon in the world, attracting celebrities and the globe’s most elite runners. Watch the city come alive on Patriot’s Day, April 20, 2015 for the 119th running of the race, and get more info at boston.marathon2015.com

Boston Celtics Basketball

The Boston Celtics have some of the country’s most loyal basketball fans. That could be partly because they’ve won 17 world championships, including a record-setting 8 in a row between the years of 1959-1966. Check out their 2015 schedule at www.nba.com/celtics/schedule

Boston Red Sox Baseball

Since they’ve overcome the “Curse of the Bambino”, the Red Sox are drawing more fans to Fenway Park than ever. Bring the kids for a great day of fun with the Green Monster, but don’t get caught with a Yankees shirt on! To buy tickets to a 2015 game and find out how spring training is going, visit boston.redsox.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=bos

Head of the Charles Regatta

If you’re into boats, you’ll want to see the world’s largest two-day rowing event that thousands flock to watch in the Charles River. Since 1965, this regatta has been popular, and includes over fifty-five racing events on October 17-18, 2015. For more about the event, visit www.hocr.org/about-hocr/

New England Revolution Soccer

As America finally increases their interest in soccer, catching up the rest of the world, fans are visiting Gillette Stadium in droves to see the New England Revolution. This Major League Soccer franchise’s 2015 schedule is available at www.revolutionsoccer.net/schedule

Boston Blazers Lacrosse

Lacrosse fans must check out the Boston Blazers. The professional lacrosse team for New England share the TD Garden with the Bruins and Celtics so they are destined for greatness.

For 2015 tickets go to www.ticketmaster.com/Boston-Blazers-tickets/artist/821857#!

The Harlem Globetrotters

For a lighthearted and fun night out of basketball, bring the whole family to see the Harlem Globetrotters. For over 50 years this team has been delighting fans of all ages. On March 28, 2015 they’ll be at the TD Garden. If you’re interested in purchasing tickets, visit http://boston.eventful.com/events/harlem-globetrotters-/E0-001-079775755-9@2015032819