Vertica

Moneyball – Not Just for Baseball Anymore

Spring is in the air, major league baseball is now underway here in North America, and thoughts of Michael Lewis’ fantastic book and film, “Moneyball” come to mind.  The plot captures how Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) leverages an extreme data analyst/quant to fundamentally change baseball strategy and scouting after 100 years of tradition.  The unorthodox data driven strategy was counter to the traditional approach.  Not surprisingly, Billy Beane was questioned until ultimately, the strategy proved successful.  Now, every team in the league, including our Boston Red Sox, is deploying a variant of this approach.  I see the exact same thing happening in just about every industry when it comes to the race for better insight and competitive advantage through extreme information and analytics.  The struggle now of course is where to find the expert quants, analysts, managers, and solution providers who understand how to make it happen.

At Hewlett-Packard, I get to witness and enable real-world moneyball every day in a variety of global industries.  I see how savvy organizations are creating swat teams of business leaders, statisticians, and IT to leverage extreme information and platforms like Vertica in ways that fundamentally alter markets and business dynamics.

In business school I was lucky enough to take Frances Frei’s course “Managing Service Operations”.  The course and her recent best-selling book “Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business” investigate organizations’ efforts to diagnose and improve service experiences.  Interestingly though, Frances was way ahead of her time and forced us to crunch numbers with statistical programs combining fundamental business information with detailed historical data for true forensics and root cause analysis.  She stressed the importance of math and data analysis.  We were careful never to rely solely on data or theory, but rather bring all of the information together to make the best informed decisions we could.  In the current Big Data era, this can be taken to a whole new level and every company must work this way from the top down.

In addition to the baseball season starting, we know that “April showers bring May flowers”.  The equivalent in our industry is that for the past several years, so many organizations have been “showered” with data.  The “flowers” of course bloom when those same organizations are able to monetize the information to create better products and services and shareholder value.  Modern technologies and comprehensive solution providers like Hewlett-Packard can help organizations drastically reduce the cost and increase the efficacy of analytics by provisioning comprehensive offerings of hardware, software, and services.  Organizations are now able to cost effectively take disparate sources of extreme information, both structured and unstructured and seamlessly combine them for constant ad hoc analysis.  This can lead to fundamentally better decisions and value creation.  Spring is an exciting time of year- let the insights bloom!

Colin Mahony
VP & GM
Vertica, An HP Company

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