When it comes to winning a major sports championship, coaches often push athletes to their limits. This year's FIFA World Cup championship series was no different. Athletes trained long and hard to prepare for the 2014 World Cup. What was different, however, is the role that technology played in helping Germany's national football team take the title.
Technology and Sports Performance
Technology and sports training have gone hand-in-hand for decades. Film analysis allowed coaches and players alike to analyze past performance. The advent of high speed cameras and digital video recorders allow for nearly instantaneous, highly detailed slow motion playback. Recent innovations include the use of sensors worn on the body such as heart rate monitors and movement meters.
While casual athletes may strap on digital pedometers and use mobile apps to later check their stats, Germany's national football team took sports performance data analysis to a whole new level leading up to the FIFA World Cup series.
For example, one of Germany's first division soccer clubs, TSG Hoffenheim, reportedly used sensors and big data analysis tools to capture and analyze data in real time. Both the players and soccer balls were equipped with sensors. From there, the data was analyzed in real time via SAP HANA.
According to Dolphin, a leader in providing business performance improvement solutions for SAP environments, we have entered the era of big data -- and its applications aren't just limited to business use as demonstrated by this year's championship World Cup team.
That said, big data poses numerous challenges to organizations and sports teams alike. Even when combined with a powerful tool such as SAP HANA, huge amounts of data is useless unless it can be understood and translated into useful insights. Dolphin suggests a two-pronged strategy consisting of data archiving with nearline storage and the re-engineering of business warehouse data models for "lean, flexible, organized 'views' of information that serve up agile reporting without increasing administrative overhead."
Using big data in sports has its own challenges that must be overcome. For example, players may be uncomfortable wearing sensors or having their every movement tracked and analyzed at the micro level.
How Germany Won the World Cup
According to most accounts, Germany won the 2104 World Cup at the last minute with an extra time goal scored by Mario Goetze. This last minute goal was the winning one. It's important to note that Germany hasn't won a World Cup title since 1990. The closest the team came to winning the World Cup since then came in 2002 when it lost the finals to Brazil.
While Goetze and his teammates certainly deserve the credit for this year's triumph, sports championships are are rarely won at the last minute. After all, extensive training, practice, and preparation are required to build a championship team.
Did SAP HANA help Germany win the World Cup? SAP HANA can't take all of the credit, but its detailed insights may have given the German players the performance edge they needed to compete at a higher level.
1. Network World, "SAP Hopes to Help Germany Win World Cup with Hana," - http://www.networkworld.com/article/2175046/software/sap-hopes-to-help-germany-win-world-cup-with-hana.html
2. Dolphin Corporation, "Information Lifecycle Management," - http://www.dolphin-corp.com/information-lifecycle-management/sap-hana/
3. CBS News, "Germany wins World Cup with last-minute goal," - http://www.cbsnews.com/news/world-cup-2014-germany-vs-argentina-final/