Big Data & B2B: What You Can Learn from the #USOpen

Baseball is often seen through the eyes of the data it generates: RBIs, RISP, ERA, GP, and more. But did you know that tennis can also be seen through the data it generates? At this year’s U.S. Open, they’re even making music with the data.

IBM has been providing statistics to a number of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments for several years now. For the U.S. Open, it has over eight years worth of data that it can use for it’s SlamTracker, which is a predictive analysis tool. It takes data like:

  • type of shot
  • the score
  • serve percentage
  • game or match duration
  • number of winners
  • serve speed
  • and more

to create “engaging and compelling tools” for the audience. While it’s not always going to be right, it provides interesting information on a player’s serve or return statistics, their tendencies to win long or short points, or the total number of points played by the quarterfinalists.

#USOpen 2014 stats

Within the SlamTracker is the “Keys to the Match” feature, which identifies “three key actions players can take on the court to increase the chances of winning.” IBM analyzes over 41 million data points collected from eight years of Grand Slam play, and then outputs the keys to the match that talks about target serve percentages, rally counts, and more. For example, Milos Raonic wins 85% of the rallies that are 4 strokes or less. Novak Djokovic wins 90% of the 2nd serves he hits on his backhand. (These numbers in these examples aren’t real, but the examples are.)

IBM’s helping the Grand Slams of tennis create a better experience for their viewers by mining the data they’ve collected over the years. I’ll bet you’ve been collecting data about your B2B company for years too. Are you ready to use it to win more business?

Here’s how B2B companies are mining their data to win more business

Plan your resources better

It’s called “predictive analysis“, and is helping companies prioritize their sales leads better, determine which products a prospect would be most likely to purchase, and develop more reliable sales forecasting. That means you’ll be able to plan out your staffing requirements, get a handle on your production and inventory, and ultimately make more sales by talking to the prospects that are serious enough to become customers. It’s been said that you can increase your profitability by 5-6% by using your data effectively.

Personalize your marketing

Just like understanding your opponent’s tendencies in a tennis match can be useful, personalizing your marketing content for your prospects can help out your bottom line. The information you’ll need to make those customizations is in your collected data. McKinsey research shows that you can increase your ROI on your marketing five to eight times by personalizing the content the prospect is reading.

Look at your data differently

Instead of just looking at the overall numbers, dive deeper into them to see what they tell you. For example, IBM’s tennis stats might tell us that a particular player serves down the middle when playing a left-handed opponent about 80% of the time. By looking at that data differently, you may notice that the player only serves down the middle when leading in a game against a left-handed opponent; when losing the game, the player tends to serve out wide.

By looking deeper at your own data, you may find that while you have 75% of the market share regionally, when you look at different verticals across the country, you see that your numbers range from 10% all the way up to 90% – It really depends on the vertical you’re looking at.

Keep your marketing on-message

Straying from your marketing message is an easy thing to do, especially if you’re trying to create content for multiple B2B marketing channels. Understanding how your message is being received by your prospects can help you keep things focused.

Final point

These are just some of the ways B2B companies are using their data to win more business. Just like IBM’s found more ways to help enrich the viewing experience of the U.S. Open through their visualizations and music, I’m sure you can find ways to help your company as well. Which pieces of data will be the key for you?