/ Moneyball: Baseball Intelligence

I am sure you are thinking, “I get it. Moneyball. Stats. Business intelligence. We should all be looking for new ways to measure our business instead of the standard metrics we have always used.” Right? Certainly a good discussion to be sure, but that is not where I want to go with this. What made Moneyball (the movie) interesting to me was the portrayed conversation between Billy Beane and John Henry, the owner of the Red Sox. Beane, having assembled a roster from “The Island of Misfit Toys” based on stats that were considered “ignored” by baseball, created a team that set the American League record for most consecutive wins (20) and won as many games as the Yankees did that same year without the massive spend on payroll.

The Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series since 1918 (at the time) and were looking for anything that would nix “The Curse,” and they felt Beane’s new personnel strategy would exorcise their Bambino demon. In the scene, while Henry was consoling Beane on some of the criticisms from the old school “baseball people” of his new methods said, “This is threatening not just the way they do business but in their mind it is threatening the game, really what it is threatening is their livelihood, it’s threatening their jobs, the way they do things…Anybody that is not tearing their team down right now and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs.”

So what does this have to do with business intelligence? The fact of the matter is the measures Beane employed to evaluate roster spots was not even his. It was a young Yale Econ major he hired away from the Cleveland Indians. What made Beane a success was his desire and willingness to move away from the status quo. He knew that the old model was a crapshoot based on “upside” of young prospects and existing players as rehearsed to him by his personnel scouts. He was willing to leave behind the notion that “This is the way it is done; always has been, always will be.” The BI space is very much like the “baseball people” who are stuck in their old ways. Most solutions require big spend on licenses, servers, patches and updates. If the system isn’t performing the way they expect it to, they just spend more money on it and it will, eventually, maybe.

Though the Red Sox did not land the services of Beane (after offering a record $12.5M contract), they did employ his methods and won the World Series two years later proving his methods work in any market, large or small. I like to think that Beane would be all about Domo if he were sitting in on our product demos, because it is not the status quo. It is not the old way of doing BI. I can hear John Henry echoing what he said to Beane, “Anyone not using Domo in their BI solution, they’re dinosaurs.”

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