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As Jodie Anna Burrage delivered the first service at last years Wimbledon Championships, its speed flashed up on the famous green scoreboards behind her. Following that, thousands more service speeds were presented on screens across the All England Lawn Tennis Club throughout day one, and would continue to be over the following fortnight.

The speed of Burrage’s first service was one of more than 4.5 million data points that will be collected through the tournament. Distance covered, backhand winners and unforced errors will all be totted up and unpicked in the coming weeks because, despite being the sport’s oldest Championship, Wimbledon is one of sport’s most technologically advanced spectacles. In fact, since IBM began partnering with the event in 1990, more than 63 million data points have been recorded, presented and scrutinised not only by spectators and sportspeople, but by Data Analysts as well.

Driven by data

They say you can’t win a game on paper, but data-driven success has become something of a sporting phenomenon over the past few decades. Data allowed Steph Curry to revolutionise the way basketball is played, it is the bedrock to Pep Guardiola’s Premier League domination, and it has put Novak Djokovic’s name in the hat for the greatest tennis player of all time. All three as data obsessives, and it shows.

This isn’t limited to sports either. Data is being captured and processed at a mind-boggling rate across every industry – be it football, finance, or pharmaceuticals. Being able to trace things back, to see what worked well and what didn’t, is the only logical way to finetune what you do and keep you and your business on the path you want to be on. Without that, you’re just wandering aimlessly.

Where were we?

But, back to the tennis. Wimbledon isn’t just collecting a shed load of data for the sake of it. The tournament and its organisers, in partnership with IBM, are leading the way when it comes to data analysis and processing. After all, 4.5 million data points don’t sort themselves out – that’s the job of 48 county tennis players recruited especially for the tournament and trained as Data Analysts.

IBM’s thinking is that while professional Analysts would have no issues interpreting the information, those with experience in the sport would be able to pre-empt key moments in the match they’re analysing, giving them the smallest of head starts – milliseconds make all the difference in sport. The result is multi-faceted: IBM Slamtracker is a market-leading live stat centre for tennis fans to keep up to date with the tournament; players are given video packages supported by match data within 20 minutes of stepping off court; and, with the help of artificial intelligence, highlights packages are edited and produced almost instantly for Wimbledon’s broadcast partners.

What’s Wimbledon got to do with my business anyway?

Sure, the link seems tenuous, but it’s far from it. We think it just goes to show how powerful using data to its full extent can be no matter what field you work in. It also shows the importance and value of transferable skills in the data industry, and how you can unlock business success rather than shooting your shot and hoping for the best.

So, as you sit down for this year’s showpiece – perhaps with a glass of Pimms in one hand, and a punnet of strawberries in the other – take note. If one of sport’s oldest tournaments can harness the power of data, so can you.

We've even highlighted some of our favourite statistics from The Championship to date in our latest infographic.

At develop, our technology team are here to help you find the best data talent for your business. If you want to make the most of your information, let’s have a chat.

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