New Zealand's cricketing Black Caps are at the leading edge of a technology trend international experts believe is changing sport and the way Kiwi companies do business.
A cloud-based data and analytics system, used by the Black Caps in the recent Cricket World Cup and designed by New Zealand company Qrious, provides a solution to a pressing question for Kiwi organisations - how to benefit from the ever-growing volume and diversity of data?
Nathalie Morris, CEO of New Zealand data and analytics experts Qrious, says New Zealand Cricket (NZC) is just one example of a Kiwi organisation winning from using the latest in cloud and data innovation.
"The smart use of data is already setting leading organisations apart, and those who are able to use it effectively are moving leaps and bounds ahead of their competition," she says.
"More than ever organisations are turning to data to improve the customer experience and increase business efficiency and profitability; smart organisations are moving their data to the cloud to maximise its value and stay competitive in today's fast-paced world."
NZC's performance analysis manager Paul Warren says taking advantage of developments in cloud technology meant the Black Caps were able to spend more time on data analysis rather than on pulling the data together and running reports. It is also used to improve game strategy and player performance.
"In the past we had to obtain this data manually - we would watch a whole day's play and then set about coding it, defining what it means," he says. "An ODI (one day international) takes about seven hours, so we would spend that amount of time coding before we could begin any analysis. Now we spend a very limited amount of time coding specifics.
"Within seconds of a ball being bowled, coaches can get detailed insights into the strengths, weaknesses and techniques of any players."
"We can learn about what batters and bowlers do at specific points in the match, such as what they do after hitting a boundary, when they bowl variations or what a certain match-up looks like. Our planning can now be more specific and our time focused on analysis," Warren says.
Morris says sporting organisations have just as much opportunity to benefit from data as any other business - which is why Qrious technology works as well in the NZC context as it does in the corporate market in New Zealand.
"Fundamentally it's about the scalability and flexibility of the cloud for storing data as well as cloud-based data analysis, and this is where Qrious expertise comes to the fore," she says.
A 2017 study by Forrester Consulting showed 68 per cent of organisations who moved their data management to a cloud-based solution reported lower IT costs and, Morris says, one of the reasons cloud-based solutions are so effective is precisely because of the direct correlation to lowering organisations' IT spend.
"On-premises data is becoming increasingly expensive and often isn't able to accommodate the diverse sets of data or do the advanced analytics required to gain full value from it," she says. "Cloud-based data technology, however, can.
"These solutions are designed to consolidate and process data from diverse sources. They're able to perform advanced analytics techniques like predictive modelling and artificial intelligence – and handle larger volumes of data and data processing.
"Real-time processing is also key - it not only allows immediate insights, but enables an organisation to improve their customer experience, for example, with real-time personalisation of product offers."
Another significant benefit of the cloud is its elasticity and ability to scale based on requirements. This, Morris says, further reduces costs as companies do not have to pay for data storage infrastructure not being used.
"But taking advantage of data in the cloud is not always straight-forward, and takes specialist expertise to ensure that it is not only fit for purpose, but that you don't succumb to things like bloated data infrastructure and "bill shock".
Morris says NZC came to Qrious to help make the Black Caps and White Ferns more competitive. The first step was to implement the Microsoft Azure cloud environment, enabling the automation of the collection, cleaning and integration of multiple data sets including match, ball tracking and weather data.
"It also enables them to more effectively assess the performance and strategies of other international sides' previous performances – insights which help predict future performance, inform players what to look out for and influence their own tactics to counter specific opponent plays."
Anyone who watched the Black Caps progress to the World Cup final would have been in no doubt the team found the technology valuable.
The work by Qrious - assisting a wide range of New Zealand organisations with data strategy and optimisation, analytics, insights, artificial intelligence and data-driven marketing - is at the sharp end of an industry said to be transforming how Kiwi organisations do business and win on the sporting stage.
For more information visit: www.qrious.co.nz