Live from CompCloud: Billy Beane Brings the Big Data

4 min read

Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A’s and the subject of the 2011 film Moneyball, just closed out the second day of CompCloud‘14 with a keynote about the transformative power of big data when applied to everyday activities. Billy Beane famously used this tactic of advantageous big data analytics to take the baseball world by storm, building a better team on a budget using uniquely overlooked statistical insights.

This tactic of using empirical “sabermetrics” was so revolutionary that Beane was able to shake the foundational principles and established thoughts of America’s favorite pastime, and he began a metrics movement within the sport that has seriously changed the face of the game. Today Billy Beane spoke to the attendees of CompCloud about the strategies and tactics he used to build his now legendary draft strategy.

The secret, which led to the book and then the movie, was the application of data to the game of baseball; even more so, the realization that by evaluating the deep datasets available to him, Beane could challenge the conventional thought surrounding the sport. By empowering unlikely individuals from outside his industry, Beane was able to acquire a fresh look at a stagnant dataset, and unlock a series of insights, which could transform the sport.

He simplified his recruiting statistics, narrowing the field to a few key metrics, and these relevant data points allowed him to locate players no team had ever considered valuable. The power of big data is evident in the results – Beane’s A’s were able to balance the gap between large and small market teams, and win multiple American League West Championships. The rapid uptake of his revolutionary methods also speaks to the recognition of raw power other teams saw in his methods. Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery as they say, and the proof is in the pickup.

In closing, Beane made a powerful statement about his players, that resonated strongly with the theme of inspiring performance; “the players are self confident people who just want to show their skills.” What Beane recognized about his players was that they had vital and actionable skills which were being underutilized, and that by tapping into this potential, could create an incredible team. What could your own workforce do if you gave your people the chance to show their skills and achieve more?