There was a time when I was perfectly content with my weekly 49ers fix. Three hours on Sunday, in and out, then I move on with my life.
This year however, intuitive visual analytics have morphed my steady but limited NFL ritual into a daily, interactive affair, complete with continuous injury status updates, real-time score tracking, and visually inviting dashboards.
The result is a seamless system that makes fantasy football much too engaging and enjoyable for my own health. The equally intuitive mobile device experience is the nail in the coffin; slipping my virtual dependence into my pocket and, inevitably, putting it in the palm of my hand. Literally.
I take solace in knowing that I’m not alone. Fantasy football is big business now. eWeek predicts that the fantasy football industry will generate $1.1 billion in revenue this season alone from 25 million participants. And the cloud has taken it to a new level. It’s giving millions of fantasy owners the insight to break fantasy football success down to a mathematical equation of yards-per-play, strength of schedule, and other KPIs derived from automated analysis of historical player data.
In a column in mid-September, CIO Senior Writer Thor Olavsrud detailed the impact that data analytics is having on the football world, fantasy and reality.
“The power of data is changing everything, often without us realizing it is happening. Case in point: football (and fantasy football in particular)…there is a quiet data revolution that has been percolating in the football world for some time…data is driving new levels of customer engagement in fantasy football.” — Thor Olavsrud, Senior Writer, CIO
Gone are the days of “play and pray,” when fantasy owners would draft players based heavily on team allegiance and hope it all works out. It’s a science now. Today’s fantasy owners expect fantasy football sites to be fully embedded with visual analytics tools. They want charts and graphs and scorecards that detail real-time player stats and scoring forecasts for the upcoming week.
These tools that provide fantasy football players with a more enjoyable gaming experience are the same tools that are helping CFOs to become more strategic, flexible, and forward-thinking in their corporate planning, budgeting and forecasting processes. These tools allow finance leaders to play financial fantasy football. See the chart below.
Just as these tools don’t guarantee business success, they don’t guarantee fantasy football victory (I’m off to an 0-4 start, but I have a good feeling about this week). But if your season is going down the drain, these analytical tools help you understand why (Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice are horribly under achieving).
I’m not a fan of the term “Big Data”. It’s a misappropriation of the word “big,” and as a writer I simply can’t stand for misappropriated words.
But what we do have is more data. A lot more data. And when combined with cloud-based analytics tools, that data has a real impact on our daily lives.
The explosion of data visualization is not unique to the business world. It’s everywhere. Even in fantasy So proceed cautiously and consider yourself forewarned. The visual analytics phenomenon is powerful, and it can encroach upon your leisurely activities as abruptly and unsuspectingly as it did upon mine.