BI and Baseball at SuiteConnect: World Champions, Dashboards and the Magnus Effect

Posted by Tom Kelly, Sr. Director Product Marketing

Statistical analysis has long been a part of baseball. From following box scores and batting leaders in the daily newspaper, to the evolving emphasis on pitch counts and the creation of new stats in the “Moneyball” era, to advanced analytics that now measure things like Wins Above Replacement Player and UZR fielding zones, teams have long used statistics to try and gain an edge.

The evolution of statistical analysis shows no signs of slowing down and teams are now relying on software to help sort through the data – not so different from the way NetSuite customers are using Business Intelligence (BI) to move their business forward. Jim Brower, Pitching Coordinator for the World Champion Chicago Cubs, spoke at a session at the recent SuiteConnect at Oracle OpenWorld about how Major League Baseball is using information – Baseball BI – and how it relates to the BI components of NetSuite.

The Cubs are using Baseball BI to improve the performance of their pitchers at the major league, minor league and international level. They have built a system they call Ivy that compiles data on each and every player in their system. Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, has noted the similarities to business, according to Brower.

“All companies have information management systems, whether you're a bank or a bakery,” he quoted Epstein as saying. “For a baseball team these days, it's usually software that helps you manage scouting reports, statistical information, medical information, contract information and incorporate video and have it at your fingertips. The quicker you can get the information, the better you can analyze it and the better you can do your job! For the Cubs that software is Ivy.”

In many ways, Ivy is to the Cubs what NetSuite is to the business world, Brower noted.

NetSuite, through role-based dashboards, shows key information, such as KPIs and trends in context—without users needing to rely on experts or move between different systems. Users can instantly get the information they need, whether speaking with a customer, processing an order, looking at demand, scheduling a project or creating a PO. Or if deeper data is needed, users can easily drill down into details—as can Jim when he is leveraging the interactive features provided by the Cubs’ system Ivy to get up to date information on any of his pitchers.

Brower earned a World Series ring with the Cubs and another with the Kansas City Royals, plus an American League Championship ring with the Royals the year before that. He not only explained the importance of statistical analysis in baseball to about 200 attendees, he let them in on the Magnus Effect.

“Under the Magnus effect, topspin produces a downward swerve of a moving ball, greater than would be produced by gravity alone, and backspin has the opposite effect,” Brower said. “Likewise side-spin causes swerve to either side as seen when a pitcher throws a slider. The overall behavior is similar to that around an airfoil with a circulation which is generated by the mechanical rotation, rather than by airfoil action.”

Ultimately, the Magnus Effect means more movement on the pitch, making it harder to hit and an important metric for evaluators to measure. So, do the various pitching coaches within the Cubs organization all understand the Magnus Effect or do they just look at Ivy, someone asked.

“Uh… they just look at Ivy,” Brower said.

It’s not dissimilar to employees looking at their dashboards. It’s one reason why bolting on a separate BI tool is not the wisest business decision. Considering the complexity of implementing the application, connecting it to disparate systems and compiling and calculating the key metrics desired, it can be more complex than implementing a fully featured cloud-based ERP system. Choosing NetSuite can effectively fill many needs with one deed by leveraging NetSuite’s BI elements:

  • Unified data model
  • Mobile access
  • Built-in, pre-defined and configurable BI
  • Metrics, KPIs, reports, analytics and workflows
  • Available for all roles and industries

If your goal is to engage your organization to improve performace and focus on key responsibilities, real-time feedback and constant monitoring of what matters most, then NetSuite lets you hit a walk-off home run.

Learn more about NetSuite BI or get a free assessment of how NetSuite can help your business succeed.

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