The perfect race needs the perfect analytics

Vice President, Offering Management, Analytics Solutions, IBM

“Things to do today: Ride a bicycle 30 hours straight, regardless of the conditions.” This is not the typical entry on your to-do list…unless you happen to be Dave Haase, ultracyclist.

To be honest, I had never heard of an ultracyclist until the unique opportunity unfolded to work with Dave on his mission to Race Across America (RAAM) in under 10 days.

When I heard the challenge of designing the “perfect race” based on real-time conditions, I was immediately intrigued. Even though my role at IBM centers on the creation of analytic applications for Assets and Operations, as well as Customer and Financial operations, I had never considered how analytics could be applied to an extreme sports endeavor. But after a few discussions about the logistics and mechanics involved in this superhuman journey, I saw strong parallels to work IBM has been doing in analytics.

At the heart of Dave’s endeavor are two machines—man and bicycle. One is much more complex than the other, but both have requirements similar to the devices, machines and equipment for which IBM solutions can predict failure, maintenance needs and replenishment.

Dave and his bike are both instrumented. Combine the output of those instruments with external data such as location, terrain and weather data, and figuring out how to get the best performance out of Dave’s “engine” becomes a prediction and optimization problem just like the ones we solve for industries such as automotive, mining, aerospace, energy and utilities. Working with our team, Dave can predict and optimize when he expends energy, for what duration, when he rests and what food intake he needs to meet his milestones across the country.

I may never attempt an undertaking as arduous as RAAM, but I like knowing that the same analytics our customers use every day to transform people, roles, processes and practices can give Dave Haase a dynamic recipe for success in this daunting race.

The race is on! RAAM began today, June 16, at 12:00 p.m. PT. You can check Dave's race progress and his personal metrics, or track the official live racers, leaderboards, photos and video updates.

Want to know more about the analytics that are helping Dave compete? You'll find plenty of information about all types of IBM Analytics Solutions right here on the IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub.

Analytics can help elite athletes perform at their best and they can also help businesses become the best they can be. Try analyzing your own data for free with Watson Analytics.