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A Sports Tech Revolution calling

An opportune idea about big data can translate into substantial business gains. That’s what Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane believed in 2002 and turned its fortune around with the pioneering use of Sabermetrics.

In 2006, former Australian coach John Buchanan introduced ‘Cricket Athlete Management System’ to manage all aspects of the game – from player preparation to final performance.

Sports analytics has, however, gone beyond providing player and team analysis and predicting correct results. It is revolutionising how players train, coaches prepare teams, scouts evaluate talent and fans enjoy sports by using digital mapping, data analytics, machine intelligence and immersive viewing.

Sports tech is gaining ground in India in line with trends abroad and there is a potential for India to emerge as a strong player in sports analytics. Therefore, it came as no surprise when sports analytics was recently used to devise strategies to make the best of player auctions in the IPL.



With the increasing importance of on-field data to analyse team performance, track individual players, monitor injuries, and optimize the training curriculum of individual players, the demand for the sports analytics market is expanding too.

Data and analytics have emerged as a business prospect from being a mere concept in a matter of just a few years. The entire industry is evolving with data analysis bringing new insights to the table, leading to increased revenue, better fan experiences, and smarter and quicker decision making.

Improvement in audience engagement, growing demand for data-driven decisions and operations, and increasing sports events, online and offline can contributed to the market growth.

The use of advanced technologies, such as cloud, IoT, big data and analytics, mobility, and social media, has led to innovation and transformation, stimulating growth in the business ecosystem.

Professional sports bodies are also increasingly committing to innovation, and change driven by technology and data insight such as sports data analytics, smart stadiums, wearable devices, and digital signage to enhance their team performance, engage fans, and provide smart infrastructures, according to the Global News Wire.



Except for North America and a few other pockets of the world, there is a big scope of technological integration in sports analytics. The growth opportunities are, however, high in Europe and North American region, owing to strong financials of various sports organisations and sports environments.

While India continues to be an under-leveraged market in this area, budget constraints can hamper sports analytics solutions adoption. Lack of awareness about its benefits can also prove to be a roadblock to market growth.

According to Arun Pandey, chairman of Rhiti Group, which manages MS Dhoni and other cricketers, the Indian sports fraternity currently stands at the cusp of a technological revolution. “While sports tech is still nascent in India, it has shown encouraging trends that have helped boost investor confidence. For India to become a sporting powerhouse, it is essential to leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Big Data. Capitalizing on new-age technologies, we’ll not only be able to produce great athletes but will also bring sports closer to the people,” Pandey was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

Speaking at a panel discussion titled ‘Technology Powering Sports Revolution’ at the recent Sportstar South Sports Conclave in Chennai, founder-CEO of  Chennai-based  Sports Mechanics S Ramakrishnan, fondly known as Ramky, stressed the need to put in place systems or resources to capture data and use them for correlation.

“India has a great chance to be a global leader in sports analytics. To achieve that, all we need to do is to set up a pipeline in place so that quality and authentic data across sports comes in.”

“There is an explosion of data around athletes alone. If you don’t collect those data, you will lose a big opportunity there,” he added.

Some risk concerns pertaining to big data in sports such as user privacy, data accuracy, interpretation of information and athlete autonomy remain.



Sporting leagues, as well as players, have been making use of data analytics, artificial intelligence and other new-age digital tools and learnings to improve performance and enrich audience engagements and tracking.

The increasing preferences for adoption of cloud-based solutions for analytics of complex data will present a new revenue growth opportunity for various players operating in sports analytics market.

Additionally, the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are creating lucrative opportunities for the sports analytics market. AI-driven platforms have been designed that can facilitate in translating hard data into narratives using simple language. The benefits of leveraging the power of AI can also take different forms from optimising business or technical decision making to enhancing athlete/team performance but also increasing demand for attendance at sporting events, as well as promoting alternative entertainment formats of the sport, according to an article published in Research Gate.



India is one of the most promising markets for sports analytics due to its increasing inclination towards growing number of sports. And it can leverage the global sports analytics market, which is expected to grow from USD 2.5 billion (2021) to USD 8.4 billion by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 27.3 per cent.

Over the years, big data and analytics industry related to cricket has undergone a tremendous change in the country with teams embracing new technology.

Indian team’s first sports analyst, Ramky transitioned cricket analysis from predictive to descriptive. He was also instrumental in the World Cup title win in 2003. Sports Mechanic has also worked with badminton star Saina Nehwal to provide her with opponent analysis.

Considered underdogs in the first IPL season, Rajasthan Royals managed to lift the trophy with a little help from data.

Even as the IPL embraced sports analytics with open arms, Intel transformed cricket experience for fans and helped coaches and players to better their performance with AR and VR during the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.

Companies such as Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and HCL have also been offering tech-laden solutions, ranging from tracking the fitness and sporting activities of players to managing and measuring audience engagement, and using virtual reality for a richer viewing experience, a Times of India report said.

The outbreak of coronavirus only strengthened this trend with a spurt in start-ups in the sports tech area. Larger IT companies have also managed to crack lucrative deals with sporting giants such as Manchester United, Cricket Australia and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the report added.

“I think every sport can benefit from analytics, essentially. It is a way of looking at a problem and trying to quantify it. It helps you to use data to find an edge and avoid human biases to make a suboptimal decision,” said Apoorva Bhide, a data scientist with Kabaddi Adda.



The major players in the global market include IBM (US), HCL (India), SAS Institute (US), Salesforce (US), EXL (US), GlobalStep (US), Catapult (US), ChyronHego (US), Stats Perform (US), TruMedia Network (US), DataArt (US), Orreco (Ireland), Quant4Sport (Italy), Zebra Technologies (US), and Exasol (Germany).

A promising road lies ahead for India, the poster boy of business analytics, to emerge as the leading global player in sports analytics too.


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