Analytics is getting to be more and more important in sports, and sports teams and leagues are looking to people with analytical skills to fill key roles in their organizations. The MIT Sports Analytics conference is a big deal, attracting more than 2000 attendees, with an active job placement service. The MBAs at my own school (the Tepper School) now has a sports analytics club, with a speaker series, case competition and more (including fun things like fantasy sports competitions) and many of these exceptionally bright and ambitious students are eager for jobs in the sports industry. While some of this may be due to the success of Moneyball, much more of this is due to the fact that computers and decision making have gotten much, much better in the last years, making analytics a key competitive advantage. And when you get past dashboards and basic data analysis and visualization, you move into using data to make better decisions. In other words, you move into operations research.
It is clear that many clubs in Major League Baseball get it. I see it when talking to people with my local team, the Pittsburgh Pirates (a team that I am sure will break .500 any year now!), and I just got a job announcement that shows that the next closest team to me, the Cleveland Indians, get it too. They are looking for a VP-Technology, but it is clear that they see this as a job involving decision making, not just infrastructure. From the ad, the primary purpose is:
The Vice President of Technology is responsible for developing, implementing, measuring and maintaining
plans that advance the organization’s achievement of its guiding commitments through enhanced
Baseball Operations and business decision-making tools, increased effectiveness of systems, hardware,
technology infrastructure and improved fan experience through fan-centric technology implementations.
I love the “decision-making tools” in that description. Sounds just right for an operations research person who also understands technology.