Big Data & Analytics Heroes

Ben Alamar

Professor of Sports Management, Menio College, Senior Analytics Consultant and Data Engineer, Cleveland Cavaliers, Author

This week's Big Data & Analytics Hero, Benjamin Alamar, adeptly juggles many balls. He's a sports analytics consultant, researcher, speaker and author of "Sports Analytics: A Guide for Coaches, Managers, and Other Decision Makers." He's also a professor of sports management at Menlo College in Menlo Park, California.

How have big data and analytics impacted how you do your job today?

They have essentially created my job. It would have been very difficult 20 years ago to make a significant impact in the NBA as a data analyst of any sort. The data was very limited so only small contributions could really be made. The depth and breadth of data in the NBA has grown dramatically now, creating a space for analysts to provide significant value by providing decision makers with significant new information and insight that simply was not possible before. The existing data sets (which are still growing bigger and more complex) allow analysts to have an impact in virtually every area of a sports organization.

How are big data and analytics changing your business strategy?

Big data and analytics are allowing teams to gain insight into areas of sport that they have not been able to objectively measure previously. For example, existing data sets now allow teams to track how far and how fast players are moving during a game. There are numerous potential uses for this type of data including impacting substitution patterns as well as injury prevention. These dimensions have the potential to fundamentally alter the way players are utilized during a game.

How can big data combined with analytics improve the world we live in in 5 to 10 years?

From a business perspective, big data and analytics have the potential to be a significant driver of economic growth. At its core, better data leads to better information, which increases the odds that good decisions are made. As the use of more and better information increases, businesses and investors should be able to be more productive which will lead to more economic activity. This productivity is by no means guaranteed, as businesses and investors must have the tools to truly access information in a timely manner and utilize it effectively, but I do believe that this is the long run promise of better data.

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