The Impact of Data Visualization in Sports

About Katie Morgan

Katie is a graduate of Tarleton State University where she earned a degree in Marketing. She started her career in sports with the Texas Rangers as a part of the Inside Sales staff in 2008. Katie was promoted from Inside Sales to Season Ticket Coordinator within two month of beginning work with the Rangers. She was once again promoted less than six months later to the position of Ticket Sales & Database Manager. She worked for the American Airlines center as the Corporate Services & Database Manager before returning to the Rangers as the Assistant Director of Ticket Operations. In this role she is helps the ticket operations department and company with all things data analytics.

Teams constantly research to find new data sources to enhance business. Data is the life blood of the organization. Data provides the ability to make key decisions based on factual information rather than projections based on personal experiences.

Big Data Questions

Some of the biggest questions teams face when finding new data sources include:

  • Now that we have all of this data, where do we store it?
  • When our data is in a usable format, how do we compile the information for our decision makers?

The Texas Rangers currently use a data warehouse to store all of our various data sources including:

  • Historical and Current Ticketing Data
  • Demographic Information
  • CRM Data
  • Team Performance Data (present and historical)
  • Weather Information (present and historical)
  • Secondary Market Data

Why do you need a data warehouse?

Justin Foote, Interactive Database Coordinator with the Texas Rangers, highlights benefits of using a data warehouse to store data.

“The use of a data warehouse has given us the ability to store and report on data, both past and present. Access to fan’s previous purchasing habits is crucial in determining future trends amongst our fans. Without the warehouse, the reports and visualizations we are using would have taken days to create, as opposed to  a couple of hours.”

Data provides you the information to help with various initiatives such as:

  1. vetting the best leads to distribute to sales representatives,
  2. provide real time visualizations,
  3. offer information on purchasing trends,
  4. provide the ability to do comparative analysis year over year, and various other projects.

Visualization with Tableau

The Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, and Pittsburgh Pirates all chose to use a data visualization tool, Tableau, to provide dashboards on various initiatives and projects.

At the Pirates

Jason Witzberger, Manager of Business Analytics with the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been a Tableau user for just under a year. He states:

“The Pittsburgh Pirates use Tableau to visualize sales and marketing trends in real-time.  With Tableau, we have access to the most up-to-date information represented in a dynamic visual format, all available from any location.  Tableau makes the data easy to understand so that we can make smarter and more proactive decisions.”

Jason points out several key benefits to using a data visualization tool:

  • Access to the most up-to-date information. Whether you are making a key decision with your data, or trying to show a new trend, having the most up to date information is of utmost importance. The Texas Rangers update data every fifteen minutes in order to provide the most accurate information to the individuals using the data resources.
  • The data is easy to understand. When providing data to decision makers and others working on a specific initiative, you always want to provide easy-to-understand information. A simplified visualization provides imperative information in an readily comprehended format. Remember the audience and cater visualizations to their needs.

At the Reds

Visualization tools, and in this case Tableau, offer several different ways to represent data. Chris Calo, Business Systems Analyst with the Cincinnati Reds, uses several different types of visualizations to highlight important information for his organization.

“Tableau has helped Reds management view data in a totally different way.  Whether it is a stadium heat map, viewing suite availability in real-time, or filtering through data reports, Tableau has made the understanding of data a much easier process with their visualization tools.”

At the Rangers

The Texas Rangers currently use Tableau to showcase the following information:

  • Real Time Ticket Sales updates
  • Actual Sales vs Budgeted Sales Comparisons
  • Sales Representatives Inbound and Outbound Calls
  • Real Time Game Day Turnstile Reporting
  • Real Time Merchandise Sales
  • Breakdown of Ticket Sales in our various box offices, concierge, and phone room
  • Cell Phone Anaylsis
  • Seasonal Employee Payroll Monitoring

Use your data visualization tool to showcase data in easy to view, eye catching, and easy to understand format. These tools provide you with a plethora of options, and it’s key that you find the visualization that enhances the data you are showing so that a quick and productive decision can be made for your organization.

An abundance of unformatted data can seem like a daunting task. However, with the appropriate plan in place any team or organization can convert the data into a usable format and begin visualizing real time information in a brand new way!


 

 Cover photo courtesy of http://www.tableausoftware.com/ 

 

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