The mantra of youth sports where “everyone gets a trophy” is permeating professional leagues. These days every team can claim some semblance of winning. In the bygone era of the NFL, two teams made the playoffs and that consisted of one game, the Super Bowl. Today six teams from each conference advance, and there is talk of adding more. In MLB, it used to be that the league leaders won the pennant and then went to the World Series; now, five teams in each league make the playoffs. In the NBA and the NHL, meanwhile, more than half of all teams make the post-season.
As the definition of post-season success broadens and winning becomes a commodity, a team’s performance isn’t enough to stand out in the $750 billion sports industry. And at a time where traditional revenue streams are under pressure and the competition for money, media, and sponsors remains stiff, sports organizations have to be more innovative.
So, what should they be doing to drive revenue? How can they use technology to attract and interact with fans? And, in the Age of Big Data, what’s the best use of analytics to increase ticket sales? These are some of the questions on the table at the 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
I recently joined 25 of my MIT classmates on an MIT Sloan Technology Trek to Seattle.
Technology is a hot area at MIT Sloan — 26 percent of the graduating class last year went into high technology jobs — so technology treks are very popular.
They are an important tool for students to learn about company cultures. However, we’re not just looking at how many hours we’ll work or how comfortable the lifestyle is. We want to feel like we’re making an impact on others in real ways, and we want to know that our MBA education is truly adding value at the organization.
Treks are a unique opportunity to ask questions and learn from employees, who are frequently alumni.
In addition to learning more about the roles of MBA grads, I also wanted to see if I could deal with Seattle’s climate. Growing up in India and living in New England for the last nine years, I knew that the Northwest would be quite different.
For all the advances in both medicine and technology, patients still face a bewildering array of advice and information when trying to weigh the possible consequences of certain medical treatments. But a hands-on, data-driven tool I have developed with some colleagues can now help patients obtain personalized predictions for their recovery from surgery. This tool can help patients better manage their expectations about their speed of recovery and long-term effects of the procedure.
People need to be able to fully understand the possible effects of a medical procedure in a realistic and clear way. Seeking to develop a model for recovery curves, we developed a Bayesian modeling approach to recovery curve prediction in order to forecast sexual function levels after prostatectomy, based on the experiences of 300 UCLA clinic patients both before radical prostatectomy surgery and during the four years immediately following surgery. The resulting interactive tool is designed to be used before the patient has a prostatectomy in order to help the patient manage expectations. A central predicted recovery curve shows the patient’s average sexual function over time after the surgery. The tool also displays a range of lighter-colored curves illustrating the broader range of possible outcomes.
It’s easy to catch the technology bug. After all, tech companies are pretty much everywhere. I became hooked when I worked as an IT consultant at Accenture after college, and plan to work at a technology company after I finish my MBA. So when I had the opportunity to participate in a Technology Trek at MIT, I jumped at the chance of visiting some of the leading market players recognized globally for their entrepreneurial and technological innovation.
I was very curious about what it’s like to work at a larger technology company, especially big ones with more resources like Facebook and Google. What is their culture really like? What kind of impact can a recent MBA graduate make? During our Technology Trek last week with 27 other MIT Sloan MBA students, I was able to get some answers.
First up was Google’s Mountain View campus. I had never seen it before, and was taken by the size of campus, the people I met, and the general atmosphere. In addition to the famous Google bikes that employees use to get around, we also saw the Wellness Center complete with nap rooms, yoga studios, and a juice bar. During our tour, we learned that Google is opening new offices just a few miles away. It’s pretty big now, but soon it will double in size!
One of the most fascinating business stories this Christmas season isn’t about how much people are spending or even what they’re buying — it’s about how they’re paying. Although a lot of people are familiar with using their phones to pay for a latte — think Starbucks — few people in the United States have started using a “mobile wallet” to any significant degree. The biggest players in the field are trying to change this by offering up holiday incentives to bring customers into the fold.
Google Wallet, the mobile payment system unveiled by the tech giant in 2011, is trying to entice customers by offering those who purchase gift cards using its system a $5 coupon in return. Customers who link the competing Apple Pay system to a Chase credit card can opt for a free music download. Softcard, the telecom companies’ mobile payment system, has also been attempting to woo customers with a variety of incentives and discounts.