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Empowering sports clubs with better data
In recent years there has been a significant rise in the role that data-driven decision making can play in the sports industry, surging the growth of the global data analytics market. Sports analytics refers to the use of data and the application of statistical and mathematical principles to analyse performance.
Due to the often unstructured nature of play, meaningful data in sports can be challenging to collect and quantify, which means analysts often leave key data points out of their calculations. This problem is called "omitted variable bias", and it means decision-makers can have a skewed picture of a team or athletes' actual performance.
A good example is football (or soccer). Each year, clubs spend billions of pounds on players despite conducting only a fraction of the due diligence that other companies undertake when spending mere thousands. Instead, they rely on models, data and traditionally the human eye or opinion which are not always accurate.
MPS Data has developed an innovative product called Incognito to address challenges that professional football clubs face when using data to improve performance and inform business decisions.
Incognito is a football data product providing football clubs with outcome-predictive statistical analysis through proprietary, data-based player and team performance assessments. Their software analyses player actions on the field – including many that other market data providers do not capture, resulting in an incognito score® for each player. Incognito provides a thorough analysis to back up the subjective view of managers, coaches, and scouts and can help reduce the likelihood of incorrect financial and tactical decisions in a world of asymmetric information.
Incognito offers customers access to bespoke player and team performance data sets, integrated intelligent video analysis, and match and transfer simulators. Customers access these tools through an online portal available through a tiered subscription offering. Incognito currently covers over 30 professional football leagues around the world and counts a number of English Premier League teams among its customer base.
Innovate NI has awarded MPS Data with a Gold Level Innovator Award in recognition of their work to date. They followed the four-step Innovation Framework to bring the new platform to market. Let’s see how they did it.
MPS Data initially developed a predictive model using commercially available football data. In doing so they identified problems with the quality and predictive capacity of the information available. This led to the idea of creating their own proprietary method of data collection and analysis to address the limitations of this data, and as such the idea of Incognito was created.
MPS Data aimed to create an efficient method of gaining higher quality data from sport, particularly football. They carried out research through various users of sports data, including potential future customers to understand their needs and how best to address these challenges during the product's development.
The demand for higher quality data was clear, and it was now about how they could create a product that would drive the necessary demand from potential customers in a very competitive market landscape.
Development & testing
MPS Data developed a prototype of Incognito, which they offered to a small number of potential customers in return for an early adopter fee. This prototype was as simple as building a password-protected WordPress website that hosted MPS statistics in a CSV file format. Despite its simplicity, it demonstrated the power of their approach and the data.
In June 2021, MPS used feedback from their early adopters to build a new website with greater functionality. It allowed customers to access information in a quicker, more flexible, and more meaningful format. The new website represented a minimum viable product (MVP), which they could test with early adopters and SMEs to gather further feedback. As a result, they began to understand user acceptance, the value of Incognito's features, and the demand for the product in the professional football market.
MPS Data launched the Incognito platform in late 2021 and have been successful in signing up a number of top level football clubs to date. In the next phase, they intend to grow their customer base and continue to enhance its features. They approach customers through various channels – the main one being their network within the football community. The MPS team work closely with a number of external consultants, including Dick Law, former Sporting Director at Arsenal FC. Their growing network includes an impressive number of contacts at the top end of global football, including c-suite executives at some of the world's biggest clubs. As a result, they currently have ongoing contact with over 50 professional clubs in a strong growing sales pipeline.
Additionally MPS Data signed an exclusive agreement with US Youth Soccer, to provide data analysis to the US youth market through their second product “ProScore”; an online platform for coaches, players and colleges, offering professional level analysis and video highlights to youth soccer in the US - launching later in 2022, where they will be working as partners with the likes of StatSports, another local success story.
Are you working on an innovative idea in your business? You can bring it to market just like MPS Data did, with help from Innovate NI. Get in touch and discover how we can help.