Performance analytics and the future of pitching

Never short of an opinion on how to achieve high performance, Sir Clive Woodward is always worth listening to. His recent article in The Sunday Times on ‘in game analysis’ sparked a thought on how this kind of approach might one day be applied to the sometimes random art of pitching.

Performance analytics is the ‘new term’ according to Woodward. The art of predicting what will happen in a match and doing so in real time, based on gathering data as events unfold.

But how might this work in the world of pitching? Most of Woodward’s analysis comes from video feedback on individual players overlaid with GPS data, be it via the now well-known Prozone statistical package used by most football and rugby clubs or the less well known Dartfish technology, which was used extensively by Team GB in this year’s Olympics.  Given that most pitches don’t involve inordinate amounts of running around – at least not in the actual meetings – how could this help business performance? Well if you take a desire to be better than your competitors through enhanced use of technology and data as your key outcome here, the possibilities become way more interesting.

Simply having live video footage of any presentation is a great start. How many times have you wondered how everyone is reacting whilst you and colleagues are presenting. Imagine if you could have someone analysing body language, facial expressions and pupil dilation rates, and feeding back to you via a simple ear piece? The ultimate ‘pitch coach’ who needn’t even be in the same room. It would also help with post pitch analysis – particularly with a view to amending subsequent presentations.

Would clients agree to being filmed? Perhaps not all, but having recently pitched to an international audience via web conferencing it’s not really a huge step to ask to record as well broadcast.But why stop there? Whilst sports coaches sometimes apply GPS tags to players’ shirts in training one can envisage a time when Neuroscience headsets improve to the point where a simple sensor (perhaps in the form of a ring or patch) could be easily applied to willing clients. In the interests of continuous improvement what client wouldn’t be at least fascinated by their own brain’s responses to concept stimuli? At the very least it should be relatively straightforward to monitor body temperature and blood flow as proxy measures of emotional and rational responses.  Imagine how useful this kind of feedback data would be in your next tissue meeting!

Does this feel far-fetched?  Well perhaps, but one thing is for sure – we have to find a more efficient way of clients selecting agencies. If only we had the equivalent of a Nate Silver as an intermediary – the statistician without any political background who correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states in the US presidential election.  Imagine if via a combination of case study analysis, personality profiling and video analysis your next pitch outcome could be predicted with even half as much accuracy.  It would certainly save a lot of pain, money and marriages!

Chris Pearce is MD at TMW.

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