Embedded BI at the London 2012 Olympics

I was fortunate to be visiting family and friends in the UK this month and soaking up some of the amazing atmosphere of the London Olympics. The whole nation was hooked. Everyone was following the action, not only at the venues, but in parks, on jumbotrons, and on mobile devices.

Casual spectators track only the names of the medal winners and the overall medal tables (GB did great, by the way). Real enthusiasts can recite athletes' statistics and historical data from the different sports. However, the athletes themselves live and breathe the data, analyzing it in multiple ways trying to gain insights that will give them an advantage. For example, the Oakland Athletics baseball team famously exploited statistics other baseball teams ignored, which was depicted in the bestselling book Moneyball.

An example on the other end of the spectrum is the Men's Cycling Road Race at the London Olympics. The British were hot favorites because on their team were the first and second placed riders in this year's Tour de France, plus the sprinter who won the final stage of that race. All the other Olympics teams were very aware of the caliber of the British riders. 

Just a few kilometers into the race a group of cyclists broke away early in the almost six-hour race. The British team stayed with the main group (aka the Peleton) hoping to catch the leaders over the next several hours and set up a sprint finish, which they would be favorites to win. The big problem was that they did not have the data they needed to execute the right strategy. If you remember from my earlier post on Embedded BI, we look for three characteristics to define embedded BI -- it needs to be timely, relevant, and actionable. In this situation, the British riders did not have the radios they had in the Tour de France to tell them how far ahead the other riders were and how fast they were going. As a result, they were not able to catch the breakaway group. 

All the information that they needed was available -- we had it on the live TV coverage -- but they couldn't get the information in time to make any use of it.  In the end, the British team did not catch the breakaway riders and did not win any medals.

In business as well as sport, the right data will give you a competitive strategy, but that data needs to be available in a timely manner. Fusion Applications has embedded business intelligence so you can always have up-to-the minute insight on the live data in your business applications. This is much better than reviewing the data offline in a data warehouse when the race may be over and the medal lost.

David Haimes
Director, Financial Applications Development
Oracle Corporation

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