Maurice Mortell, VP of emerging markets and country manager of TelecityGroup Ireland discusses the cover story of the Hub magazine, with Jamie Heaslip and discovers parallels between sport and business – especially in the growing trend of data-driven decision making
I have always loved sport, having played rugby for many years. It's hard to match the adrenaline buzz of good rugby match, which is one of the reasons that I am still an avid fan to this day. To me, sport offers a language and imagery that business readily understands. What CEO doesn’t want to get the best out of his team and beat the competition? Achieving those goals is often a matter of fine margins. Just as the smart coach closely watches the play and makes a match-winning substitution or tactical change, so the intelligent business manager increasingly uses data to drive the critical insight and gain better performance.
Our cover story in this edition of the Hub magazine looks at the growing area of analytics as it’s applied to rugby – a sport where Ireland has enjoyed a lot of success on the field in recent years. Data analysis is becoming more widely used in Irish rugby, both to give management teams the insight to go with their instinct and to give fans a deeper understanding of the game.
In business, the concept of data analysis is not actually new, although its influence in helping organisations to make better decisions has definitely increased of late. The technology has advanced, with the proliferation of connected devices, faster connectivity and improved data storage options. These forces combine to help businesses collect and store the right data and, through the correct analysis, organisations can identify patterns and can use this knowledge to build better products, services or make predictions about how their firm is likely to perform.
Examples of analytics in action are close at hand. For instance, last year, Dublin City Council (DCC) announced a partnership with IBM Research as part of the Smart Cities initiative. Using data gathered from sensors across the city, along with geospatial information from over 1,000 buses, DCC analyses congestion along public transport routes and can respond with traffic calming measures. DCC claims this has already led to improved service for customers.
It’s worth pointing out that it’s not enough to store terabytes of data just to produce a bar chart. Effective data-based decisions come from ongoing, structured data analysis. This requires a coherent structure and the right people who are capable of interpreting the data correctly.
What’s more, the need to manage, manipulate and analyse data places rigorous demands on servers, storage and networks. A data centre can play a key role in keeping such data both accessible and secure. At TelecityGroup, our engineers are noticing more and more customers are availing of the advantages of a facility which enables customers to spin up servers for a specific analysis project. This way, the time to arrive at those good decisions is radically shortened, and businesses can benefit from the resulting insights much faster. Using an external data centre also provides organisations with an additional layer of security, which is especially important where sensitive business data or customer information may be involved.
The data centre plays an important role in the field of data analytics. If you think of Apple's latest data centre announcement in Ireland, this data centre will produce services that are perfected through data analytics, powering online services such as the iTunes Store and Siri. Apple is the most innovative, visionary and creative brand worldwide, with R&D spend hitting $1.6 billion in 2014. Apple is preparing for a future where the device – and the data it delivers – plays a central role. Now Ireland will play a role too, as its global reputation as the data centre location of choice is further reinforced. Let's hope our reputation for rugby follows suit!