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Football and Analytics: A New Era of Data

On the heel of the national championship (a big congratulations to the LSU Tigers!) and a  Super Bowl win by the Kansas City Chiefs, sports are inevitably consuming our free time. We don’t know about you, but we’re thinking about all of the buffalo chicken dip, nachos, and wings we’ve eaten, but we diverge.

 If you’ve read a few of our blogs, you’ll notice we like to take real-life, fun examples and connect them to the world of manufacturing analytics. Football is no exception.  

Believe it or not, there is a connection between football, analytics, and manufacturing.  

Football, Analytics, and Manufacturing – One in the Same? 

Yep, that face of confusion you’re making right now – we get it. Sports and analytics, yeah that’s a simple connection – players in all sports are using analytics to measure their performance to become better players. But, how on Earth does that relate to manufacturing? (Our marketing director made the same face when this topic was brought up so that look of confusion, yeah, we really do get it.)  

There is a connection, bear with us. Okay, so as we stated above, players, no matter the sport, take advantage of technological advancements by reviewing their performance using analytics.  

 Other teams in the market for linebackers have homed in on what kind of closing speed elite tacklers need,” Kevin Clark, The Ringer wrote in 2018. “For instance, Zebra Technologies, a company whose MotionWorks service collects game-day data, found that the Cowboys’ Leighton Vander Esch reaches 16 to 17 miles per hour on his best plays.” 

The data is there and football teams are taking full advantage.  

Beyond performance, data is used to acquire the best players, analyze opponents, make the staff more efficient, increase ticket sales, the list goes on and on. Analytics provides the necessary information needed to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the decision-making process.  

No Access to Data, No Improvement  

Imagine for a second if players, coaches, and teams weren’t permitted to use data to improve. Just imagine the outrage and frustration that would result. Now take those feelings and put yourself in the shoes of a manufacturer who’s machines aren’t producing product on time, but have no idea why. Wouldn’t it be incredibly frustrating to be faced with a problem you don’t know how to fix because there’s no data? 

Without analytics on the factory floor, it’s nearly impossible to determine why a machine isn’t running. Quite the annoying situation if you ask us.  

So you see, football and manufacturing aren’t really that different, at least regarding analytics. Now that the connection has been made, you see the importance of analytics – in sports and manufacturing.  Analytics goes beyond numbers, it’s a way to empower, too.

In football, players are empowered with vast analytics – resources, training, support –  to succeed in their jobs. Those resources give players the determination to work harder, smarter, and most importantly, together, to win games (hey, we’re looking at you again, LSU!). It’s expected for players to be provided with those resources, right? 

In the manufacturing world, operators = players. What if operators were given the same type of analytical resources? These are the people who work hard or “play the game” to support the organization and produce a quality product. Frankly, they’re “winning” the production process. Now, if given the resources to succeed, they likely will go above and beyond expectations.  

So, why are most operators not given those resources? Manufacturing analytics is designed to support the manufacturer, including operators.  

From the Field and Beyond, Analytics Helps Manufacturers 

Every day, operators are taking to the field, ahem factory floor. Let’s empower them with analytics to do things like:  

  • Measure performance 
  • Monitor progress with scoreboards on the floor 
  • Analyze, understand, and improve 
  • Leverage knowledge to learn & teach others

When operators are given the tools to succeed, your company will benefit, just as a football team will benefit from the efforts of their players.  

However, too often we hear concerns that analytics isn’t a platform of empowerment, but rather a tool to be “big brother.” We couldn’t disagree more. Analytics helps increase performance, efficiencies, profits – you name it and analytics can help improve, whether that be the production performance of an operator or a pass between a quarterback and receiver.

 Analytics shouldn’t be scary or thought of as “big brother”.  Instead of being leery of data, think of manufacturing analytics as a very essential business solution you can make insightful decisions from. Just as players are preparing for the upcoming Super Bowl using analytics, you, too, should be preparing for a year of success. What’s stopping you? 

 The benefits of analytics are plentiful. You wouldn’t expect a professional football player to work blindly without feedback, never knowing how to improve, why would you do the same? 

When you’re watching this year’s Super Bowl and chowing down on chips and guac, take a minute to think about the role analytics plays. Then, when you head into work the following week, think about how analytics can help you, just as it helped the sport of football. 

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Bryan Sapot
Bryan Sapot is a lifelong entrepreneur, speaker, CEO, and founder of Mingo. With more than 24 years of experience in manufacturing technology, Bryan is known for his deep manufacturing industry insights. Throughout his career, he’s built products and started companies that leveraged technology to solve problems to make the lives of manufacturers easier. Follow Bryan on LinkedIn here.