How to Use Data Analytics

Sport Data Analytics Example
Data Analytics in Sport – Start with Yourself

Data analytics seems to be getting a great deal of press lately. The emergence of “tech” as a social norm, the evolution of the internet and the attention of the big four social networking giants (Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…although I’ve seen some good arguments about who that last one should be) has brought data and its study (data analytics) to the forefront of our attention.

So what’s the buzz about data analytics?

Well, for one, it’s been around as long as math – pretty much since the beginning of time; and we’re just now starting to realize how “cool” it is to actually look at math as something fun because let’s admit it – that’s what data analytics is – statistics…and statistics is math.


Data analytics is the use of information that can be broken down and compared and contrasted in different ways from which, once analyzed through different lenses or perspectives, conclusions can be drawn about whatever it is that’s being studied (that’s my own definition). Hhmm, that sounds dense. Let’s say that in a different way. Data analytics is the analysis of data for better outcomes.

Let’s Try Something Together

Look at it in terms of your personal finances…do you track your monthly expenditures? This is the easiest way to use data analytics and to learn on your own. Open up MS Excel (yes that program that can with your copy of MS Office with the “X” on it that you haven’t used since college) or whatever spreadsheet software you have, Google Docs is a great alternative, and start by making a spreadsheet that looks like the screenshot above. (When you do this on your own, replace the “X’s” with actual positive or negative numbers where appropriate)

Label the first column Assets/Liabilities, the next 31 columns labeled consecutively from 1-31 and the last column TOTAL. Below those columns enter everything that you spend money on and everything that puts money in your bank account under the corresponding date that the money enters/leaves your bank account. For most of us, our “assets” are our day jobs – call this “work” or “salary” in your spreadsheet. Each asset or liability gets one row and each transaction goes under the corresponding date. If you get interest on your bank account, call that “interest”. Do that for everything you could consider an asset.

Then, whatever you spend money on, track that on your spreadsheet as a negative balance, since those are liabilities or things that cost you money. Do this for an entire month and, WA-LA!, you have data! Do this another month and POOF!, you have some real information for data analytics. And guess what…this stuff actually matters to you (or at least it should)! If you have no idea how to do analytics, just think of it as the digital version of balancing your check book. I realize I shouldn’t take for granted that most people know how to do this, but for the sake of argument I will. Once you’ve built up a couple of months of expenses and income, you can begin to make some real data comparisons regarding your money situation.

Now think about this exercise in terms of what your sports business is doing…probably something much more complicated with many more variables – that’s ok. Statistics takes some time to learn and data collection and analysis doesn’t happen overnight. Also, just like this example, data collection must come before data analysis. You can’t analyze what you don’t have!

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Also important to remember is that your data must be “clean”. By that, I mean that you must use the same nomenclature, phrasing, listings, and categories for every piece of information. Everything MUST be consistent. You can make this is as complex as you want, however this goes both ways; the less information you track the less work this will be, but also less meaningful – the more information you track, the more complex and challenging the analysis will be, but also the more meaningful the conclusions will be in your final results. Now this is not something to be intimidated by, but this is how to use data analytics in a very simplified example.

Data Analytics in Sport

In a sports business setting, the work you are using data analytics for is much more complex. For example, you’re using data analytics to figure out athlete health and performance, you’re using it in the box office to track sales and customer buying activity, you’re using it the marketing office to track advertisement and online engagement and effectiveness, you’re using it in the concession stand to track what items are selling the most and at what particular venue locations on what days and at what points during the game and so on and so forth. If you want to learn to use data analytics, I strongly suggest you start by tracking your own financial situation. Once you’ve gotten a few months of worth of data and figured out everything you can on that front, it’s time to advance to more complicated avenues.

If you want help or have any questions or comments, drop me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn and let’s work together and start a conversation. I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new. My challenge to you is to actually start tracking your own finances. By doing so you’re both taking control of your financial future and learning a useful professional skill! If you’d like to support Bill’s Sports Business Blog, please sign-up for the newsletter and consider using my Amazon Affiliate link. At no additional cost to you, I’ll make a small commission on your purchase. The proceeds from your use of my affiliate link directly offset the costs associated with this blog. Thank you for your support.

Go Forth!

On Keeping Tabs and Personal Growth

If you don’t already, you should be keeping tabs on the people doing your job or similar jobs outside of your current sector. I work in sports, so I follow other people in technical, marketing and development roles in others areas of business, such as consumer packaged goods (CPG), logistics and freight forwarding/management, various marketing agencies, news organizations, media companies and numerous creative types and self-proclaimed entrepreneurs. I intentionally follow other people doing different but similar types of work, in addition to all the major collegiate and professional sports leagues in the United States. I also don’t limit myself to only B2B or B2C and occasionally I do look at a few organizations from other areas of the globe, but not as much as I would like – something I’ll be more intentional about going forward. Stay with me.

The reason you should be doing this is for inspiration, for ideas and for a greater perspective about the world around us. Your job performance will get stale if you don’t look outside your industry and apply insights gained from other sectors. At some point you’ll run out of ideas and end up staring at everyone else you work with wondering what happened when your business drops off, no one shows up to see your teams play and eventually when your recruits all sign somewhere else. Either that or you’re probably a genius and shouldn’t be reading this blog, but fixing the worlds problems! All kidding aside…

I am a big believer in think tanks, community learning, education and sharing ideas with different people. As the saying goes, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Step outside your comfort zone and share what you have with other people – it’s worth the discomfort to grow, learn and make connections. Today I spoke to one of my mentors whose life and business was transformed from having been a part of one of these “think tanks,” which I’m sure took a lot of guts to go do. People like that inspire me to keep moving on my journey as well, never ceasing in the quest for making the world a better place by “becoming more of that which I already am.”

And that too is something I believe in very deeply – that we humans are constantly changing and becoming more of what we already are. Regardless of what your current circumstances are, you as a person have the freedom of thought, self expression, and the right to feel good about yourself. I am contacted by other young professionals on a semi-regular basis and am often asked how I got to where I am now. In response, I tell them I do my best everyday, show up ready to work, and attempt to constantly put myself in a position to succeed. I find myself where I am because I have had to be intentional about learning who I am as a person, what my values are and what I want my life to be like – none of which were necessarily “easy” to figure out. I am also where I am because of all the other wonderful people who have helped me grow – people I know personally as well as from a distance.

To be more of that which you already are, develop a sense of quiet about your life where you can comfortably “unplug” from all of life’s distractions to make sure you are really on your own correct path. By developing a regular habit of introspection you come to a deeper level of understanding about yourself and the world which gives you greater opportunity to be a positive influence for others. People with the “coaching bug” often have this habit. As do servant leaders. If those are the people you admire, do like they do and live an intentional life.

I originally started out writing this post with the intention of talking about a marketing principle called “see, think, do”, but just decided to hold off on that principle until tomorrow. My introduction to this post really got me thinking about these other principles, so I figured I would just go with the flow. Enter your email address in the box to the right to get an instant email update with tomorrow’s post entitled “see, think, do” and all future posts. It’ll be a good one, tying in the perspective piece I blogged about a while back. See you tomorrow!

Go Forth!