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The Big Data World Series

Nov. 28, 2017
Thomas Wilk explores how the IIoT helped the Astros become a contender again.

When it comes to Big Data and the IIoT, one of the things I like to keep an eye on is the ways in which professional sports succeed with these technologies. Two years ago I noted a parallel between the Houston Astros and the industrial sector, where both were starting to fight the same types of cybersecurity battles.

Why were the SI staff so confident, even if the Astros weren’t? The story describes the efforts made by the Astros to integrate softer, more-qualitative information (family health history, player personality) with more standard performance analytics – a new approach that pushed beyond the Big Data approach to player evaluations pioneered by Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s.

In a retrospective article by Ben Reiter, the author of the 2014 SI story, Reiter remembers that the Astros’ goal was not to make zero mistakes. Rather, the Astros set out “to make marginally more correct decisions than their competitors, in the long haul. ... They told everyone exactly what they were going to do—and then they did it.”

MLB isn’t limiting data-driven approaches to game play alone. Behind the scenes, says Bill Schmarzo, CTO of Big Data for Dell Global Services, “all sports teams are looking to couple detailed customer transactional and engagement data with external factors—weather, traffic, opponent, seasonal standings, day of the week, time of the game—to optimize each of those types of decisions” and improve the game-day experience.

It’s yet another look into the future of the way that Big Data keeps changing the face of industrial operations: The promise of these tools is moving fast beyond asset performance and into the area of organizational optimization. So, when you celebrate your first IIoT project win, be sure you’ve got the walls lined with plastic, and try to keep the champagne out of your eyes.

From the Editor

This article is part of our monthly From the Editor column. Read more from Thomas Wilk.

About the Author

Thomas Wilk | editor in chief

Thomas Wilk joined Plant Services as editor in chief in 2014. Previously, Wilk was content strategist / mobile media manager at Panduit. Prior to Panduit, Tom was lead editor for Battelle Memorial Institute's Environmental Restoration team, and taught business and technical writing at Ohio State University for eight years. Tom holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Ohio State University

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