How data insights are helping British Athletics go for gold

This is part three of a three-part blog series looking at how PwC and British Athletics are working together to inspire performance through data insights. In our final instalment of the series, we explore how PwC’s data intelligence team are bringing together all the data sets collected by British Athletics, providing powerful insights to help athletes win more medals in more events.

Data is often talked about in terms of its value. But on its own, data has little inherent value. Our data intelligence team at PwC know the real value of data comes not just from collecting or owning it, but from using it effectively.

In the case of our work with British Athletics, that means following a clear process of identifying, collecting, analysing and presenting insights from all the recent and historical data available about its athletes, from health statistics to strength diagnostics, training and performance, all in one place.

And this isn’t about replacing the value of experienced coaches with incredible insights of their own. It’s about giving those coaches more information to make even better decisions that will ultimately help athletes achieve more.

British Athletics coach Barry Fudge made it clear he is very open to the power of data analytics. “I’m a scientist by trade,” he said. “I use data to understand the world around me and to help make decisions.”

In order for those decisions to be as effective as possible, they need to be based on a detailed, up-to-date and accurate view of all the data available.

Tommy Yule, Head of Performance Support, talked about the need to move away from analysing data sets in isolation and the risks of making decisions based upon partial views of data.

“You've got data sets in silos and people are drawing conclusions from them and then presenting that back to coaches and athletes,” said Tommy. “That's miles away from being helpful.”

What’s more helpful is being able to collect and analyse all that data in its entirety to provide actionable insights. Working as the official data intelligence partner to British Athletics, we’ve created a single repository of data, providing coaches and athletes with reports and powerful insights to assist their planning and decision-making. We’re also working to ensure those insights are easy to access and understand, because a bad experience with using data, or presenting it in a way that can appear daunting, could ultimately prove counter-productive.

This certainly rings true for Holly Bradshaw, a British Athletics pole vaulter.

Holly said: “A lot of athletes and coaches don't use data because it's confusing and scares them. They think, ‘that confuses me, I don't want to use it,’ whereas if it can be presented in the right way, it's so powerful.”

We’re already seeing the first results from the partnership between PwC and British Athletics, but the best is yet to come. Over time, we expect the depth, breadth and richness of the data that we can collect to increase exponentially.

The more data collected about the athletes and their performance, the more powerful the insights will be. And this is as true for business as it is for sport. Because whether the objective is to get a relay baton around a running track, or get goods through a supply chain more effectively, data analytics can help, and combined with human insights and understanding the difference can be inspiring.

Contact us

Alex Cooke 

Alex Cooke 

Data Intelligence Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7891 150 219

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