Interview Prof Benjamin Alamar , Sports Analytics

Here is an interview with Prof Benjamin Alamar, founding editor of the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport, a professor of sports management at Menlo College and the Director of Basketball Analytics and Research for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA.

Ajay – The movie Moneyball recently sparked out mainstream interest in analytics in sports.Describe the role of analytics in sports management

Benjamin- Analytics is impacting sports organizations on both the sport and business side.
On the Sport side, teams are using analytics, including advanced data management, predictive anlaytics, and information systems to gain a competitive edge. The use of analytics results in more accurate player valuations and projections, as well as determining effective strategies against specific opponents.
On the business side, teams are using the tools of analytics to increase revenue in a variety of ways including dynamic ticket pricing and optimizing of the placement of concession stands.
Ajay-  What are the ways analytics is used in specific sports that you have been part of?

Benjamin- A very typical first step for a team is to utilize the tools of predictive analytics to help inform their draft decisions.

Ajay- What are some of the tools, techniques and software that analytics in sports uses?
Benjamin- The tools of sports analytics do not differ much from the tools of business analytics. Regression analysis is fairly common as are other forms of data mining. In terms of software, R is a popular tool as is Excel and many of the other standard analysis tools.
Ajay- Describe your career journey and how you became involved in sports management. What are some of the tips you want to tell young students who wish to enter this field?

Benjamin- I got involved in sports through a company called Protrade Sports. Protrade initially was a fantasy sports company that was looking to develop a fantasy game based on advanced sports statistics and utilize a stock market concept instead of traditional drafting. I was hired due to my background in economics to develop the market aspect of the game.

There I met Roland Beech (who now works for the Mavericks) and Aaron Schatz (owner of footballoutsiders.com) and learned about the developing field of sports statistics. I then changed my research focus from economics to sports statistics and founded the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. Through the journal and my published research, I was able to establish a reputation of doing quality, useable work.

For students, I recommend developing very strong data management skills (sql and the like) and thinking carefully about what sort of questions a general manager or coach would care about. Being able to demonstrate analytic skills around actionable research will generally attract the attention of pro teams.

About-

Benjamin Alamar, Professor of Sport Management, Menlo College

Benjamin Alamar

Professor Benjamin Alamar is the founding editor of the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport, a professor of sports management at Menlo College and the Director of Basketball Analytics and Research for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA. He has published academic research in football, basketball and baseball, has presented at numerous conferences on sports analytics. He is also a co-creator of ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal. He has consulted for teams in the NBA and NFL, provided statistical analysis for author Michael Lewis for his recent book The Blind Side, and worked with numerous startup companies in the field of sports analytics. Professor Alamar is also an award winning economist who has worked academically and professionally in intellectual property valuation, public finance and public health. He received his PhD in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2001.

Prof Alamar is a speaker at Predictive Analytics World, San Fransisco and is doing a workshop there

http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/sanfrancisco/2012/agenda.php#day2-17

2:55-3:15pm

All level tracks Track 1: Sports Analytics
Case Study: NFL, MLB, & NBA
Competing & Winning with Sports Analytics

The field of sports analytics ties together the tools of data management, predictive modeling and information systems to provide sports organization a competitive advantage. The field is rapidly developing based on new and expanded data sources, greater recognition of the value, and past success of a variety of sports organizations. Teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, as well as other organizations have found a competitive edge with the application of sports analytics. The future of sports analytics can be seen through drawing on these past successes and the developments of new tools.

You can know more about Prof Alamar at his blog http://analyticfootball.blogspot.in/ or journal at http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jqas. His detailed background can be seen at http://menlo.academia.edu/BenjaminAlamar/CurriculumVitae

Use R for Business- Competition worth $ 20,000 #rstats

All you contest junkies, R lovers and general change the world people, here’s a new contest to use R in a business application

http://www.revolutionanalytics.com/news-events/news-room/2011/revolution-analytics-launches-applications-of-r-in-business-contest.php

REVOLUTION ANALYTICS LAUNCHES “APPLICATIONS OF R IN BUSINESS” CONTEST

$20,000 in Prizes for Users Solving Business Problems with R

 

PALO ALTO, Calif. – September 1, 2011 – Revolution Analytics, the leading commercial provider of R software, services and support, today announced the launch of its “Applications of R in Business” contest to demonstrate real-world uses of applying R to business problems. The competition is open to all R users worldwide and submissions will be accepted through October 31. The Grand Prize winner for the best application using R or Revolution R will receive $10,000.

The bonus-prize winner for the best application using features unique to Revolution R Enterprise – such as itsbig-data analytics capabilities or its Web Services API for R – will receive $5,000. A panel of independent judges drawn from the R and business community will select the grand and bonus prize winners. Revolution Analytics will present five honorable mention prize winners each with $1,000.

“We’ve designed this contest to highlight the most interesting use cases of applying R and Revolution R to solving key business problems, such as Big Data,” said Jeff Erhardt, COO of Revolution Analytics. “The ability to process higher-volume datasets will continue to be a critical need and we encourage the submission of applications using large datasets. Our goal is to grow the collection of online materials describing how to use R for business applications so our customers can better leverage Big Analytics to meet their analytical and organizational needs.”

To enter Revolution Analytics’ “Applications of R in Business” competition Continue reading “Use R for Business- Competition worth $ 20,000 #rstats”

Interview with Rob La Gesse Chief Disruption Officer Rackspace

Here is an interview with Rob La Gesse ,Chief Disruption Officer ,Rackspace Hosting.
Ajay- Describe your career  journey from not finishing college to writing software to your present projects?
Rob- I joined the Navy right out of High School. I had neither the money for college, or a real desire for it. I had several roles in the Navy, to include a Combat Medic station with the US Marine Corps and eventually becoming a Neonatal Respiratory Therapist.

After the Navy I worked as a Respiratory Therapist, a roofer, and I repaired print shop equipment. Basically whatever it took to make a buck or two.  Eventually I started selling computers.  That led me to running a multi-line dial-up BBS and I taught myself how to program.  Eventually that led to a job with a small engineering company where we developed WiFi.

After the WiFi project I started consulting on my own.  I used Rackspace to host my clients, and eventually they hired me.  I’ve been here almost three years and have held several roles. I currently manage Social Media, building 43 and am involved in several other projects such as the Rackspace Startup Program.

Ajay-  What is building43 all about ?

Rob- Building43 is a web site devoted to telling the stories behind technology startups. Basically, after we hired Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica we were figuring out how best we could work with them to both highlight Rackspace and customers.  That idea expanded beyond customers to highlighting anyone doing something incredible in the technology industry – mostly software startups.  We’ve had interviews with people like Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of FaceBook.  We’ve broken some news on the site, but it isn’t really a news site. It is a story telling site.

Rackspace has met some amazing new customers through the relationships that started with an interview.

Ajay-  How is life as Robert Scoble’s boss. Is he an easy guy to work with? Does he have super powers while he types?

Rob- Robert isn’t much different to manage than the rest of my employees. He is a person – no super powers.  But he does establish a unique perspective on things because he gets to see so much new technology early.  Often earlier than almost anyone else. It helps him to spot trends that others might not be seeing yet.
Ajay – Hosting companies are so so many. What makes Rackspace special for different kinds of customers?
Rob- I think what we do better than anyone is add that human touch – the people really care about your business.  We are a company that is focused on building one of the greatest service companies on the planet.  We sell support.  Hosting is secondary to service. Our motto is Fanatic Support®

and we actually look for people focused on delivering amazing customer experiences during our interviewing and hiring practices. People that find a personal sense of pride and reward by helping others should apply at
Rackspace.  We are hiring like crazy!

Ajay – Where do you see technology and the internet 5 years down the line? (we will visit the answers in 5 years 🙂 )?
Rob- I think the shift to Cloud computing is going to be dramatic.  I think in five years we will be much further down that path.  The scaling, cost-effectiveness, and on-demand nature of the Cloud are just too compelling for companies not to embrace. This changes business in fundamental ways – lower capital expenses, no need for in house IT staff, etc will save companies a lot of money and let them focus more on their core businesses. Computing will become another utility.  I also think mobile use of computing will be much more common than it is today.  And it is VERY common today.  Phones will replace car keys and credit cards (they already are). This too will drive use of Cloud computing  because we all want our data wherever we are – on whatever computing device we happen tobe using.
Ajay- GoDaddy CEO shoots elephants. What do you do in your  spare time, if any.
Rob- Well, I don’t hunt.  We do shoot a lot of video though! I enjoy playing poker, specifically Texas Hold ’em.  It is a very people oriented game, and people are my passion.

Brief Biography- (in his own words from http://www.lagesse.org/about/)

My technical background includes working on the development of WiFi, writing wireless applications for the Apple Newton, mentoring/managing several software-based start-ups, running software quality assurance teams and more. In 2008 I joined Rackspace as an employee – a “Racker”.  I was previously a 7 year customer and the company impressed me. My initial role was as Director of Software Development for the Rackspace Cloud.  It was soon evident that I was better suited to a customer facing role since I LOVE talking to customers. I am currently the Director of Customer Development Chief Disruption Officer.  I manage building43 and enjoy working with Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica to make that happen.  The org chart says they work for me.  Reality tells me the opposite :)

Go take a look – I’m proud of what we are building there (pardon the pun!).

I do a lot of other stuff at Rackspace – mostly because they let me!  I love a company that lets me try. Rackspace does that.Going further back, I have been a Mayor (in Hawaii). I have written successful shareware software. I have managed employees all over the world. I have been all over the world. I have also done roofing, repaired high end print-shop equipment, been a Neonatal Respiratory Therapist, done CPR on a boat, in a plane, and in a hardware store (and of course in hospitals).

I have treated jumpers from the Golden Gate Bridge – and helped save a few. I have lived in Illinois (Kankakee), California (San Diego, San Francisco and Novato), Texas (Corpus Christi and San Antonio), Florida (Pensacola and Palm Bay), Hawaii (Honolulu/Fort Shafter) and several other places for shorter durations.

For the last 8+ years I have been a single parent – and have done an amazing job (yes, I am a proud papa) thanks to having great kids.  They are both in College now – something I did NOT manage to accomplish. I love doing anything someone thinks I am not qualified to do.

I can be contacted at rob (at) lagesse (dot) org

you can follow Rob at http://twitter.com/kr8tr

Jim Goodnight for US Senate: Op Ed

Jim Goodnight, Chief Executive Officer, SAS, U...
Image via Wikipedia

This is NOT an April fool joke or a publicity stunt. It is also not meant to provoke discussion for the sake of provocation.

For a time, as I have studied both US and India , in what makes Government work or fail, academia work or fail, or businesses to work or fail- a common thread is the quality of people involved. Someone who is a wasteful businessman, will be a wasteful politician. Someone who is a flamboyant businessman with flair more than substance will continue that in public life.
Accordingly I have created a Facebook cause-

Jim Goodnight for the US Senate

http://www.causes.com/causes/600220-jim-goodnight-for-the-us-senate

If Donald Trump can run for President, I can think of no one who has done more for the American South. Unlike the tech heavy, Stanford dominated boom in California, the Mid West and South have been declining centers of influence. Cities like Austin Texas or Raleigh, North California are the exception rather than norm there. A friend who went to Duke once told me, the worst thing is to be borne a rural white male who is poor in America. There are no groups lobbying for education or internet hi fi blazing speeds for you. Socially you are expected to walk and thrive alone.

The Southern Baptist Church has managed to infiltrate and influence young minds there- the average conservative American seemed better off and happier in his moderated social behaviour. But the Church exacts a 10 % tithe, and it is efficient in stretching every dollar and every cent of church donations. Government works with the best intentions, but spending someone else’s money (your tax money money by a bureaucrat) is always more inefficient than the actual owner spending it alone. Taxes are higher than the 10 % tithe and seem to accomplish much less social change. You would rather go to work or go to war?

Accordingly I find that on the West Coast there are very few tech savvy leaders with a track record of both fiscal pragmatism, educational reform and job creation. Certainly the industry lobbyist is smarter at evading taxes than the average Joe, and campaign financing is still dependent on deep pockets despite the innovations of internet retail fund raising.

Would you like your Senator to be as considerate of creating jobs as entrepreneurs are. Jim Goodnight here is a metaphor for all entrepreneurs who dont believe in reckless hire-fire,outsourcing and long term views on people.

Click here to spread this cause- perhaps it will make existing politicians more efficient just by the threat of new competition.

http://www.causes.com/causes/600220-jim-goodnight-for-the-us-senate?recruiter_id=8347178



PAW Blog Partnership

Please use the following code  to get a 15% discount on the 2 Day Conference Pass: AJAY11.

 

 

 

 

Predictive Analytics World announces new full-day workshops coming to San Francisco March 13-19, amounting to seven consecutive days of content.

These workshops deliver top-notch analytical and business expertise across the hottest topics.

Register now for one or more workshops, offered just before and after the full two-day Predictive Analytics World conference program (March 14-15). Early Bird registration ends on January 31st – take advantage of reduced pricing before then.

Driving Enterprise Decisions with Business Analytics – March 13, 2011
James Taylor, CEO, Decision Management Solutions
NEW – R for Predictive Modeling: A Hands-On Introduction – March 13, 2011
Max Kuhn, Director, Nonclinical Statistics, Pfizer
The Best and Worst of Predictive Analytics: Predictive Modeling Methods and Common Data Mining Mistakes – March 16, 2011
John Elder, Ph.D., CEO and Founder, Elder Research, Inc.
Hands-On Predictive Analytics – March 17, 2011
Dean Abbott, President, Abbott Analytics
NEW – Net Lift Models: Optimizing the Impact of Your Marketing – March 18-19, 2011
Kim Larsen, VP of Analytical Insights, Market Share Partners

Download the Conference Preview or view the Predictive Analytics World Agenda online

Make savings now with the early bird rate. Receive $200 off your registration rate for Predictive Analytics World – San Francisco (March 14-15), plus $100 off each workshop for which you register.

Register now before Early Bird Price expires on January 31st!

Additional savings of $200 on the two-day conference pass when you register a colleague at the same time.

 

Carole-Ann’s 2011 Predictions for Decision Management

Carole-Ann’s 2011 Predictions for Decision Management

For Ajay Ohri on DecisionStats.com

What were the top 5 events in 2010 in your field?
  1. Maturity: the Decision Management space was made up of technology vendors, big and small, that typically focused on one or two aspects of this discipline.  Over the past few years, we have seen a lot of consolidation in the industry – first with Business Intelligence (BI) then Business Process Management (BPM) and lately in Business Rules Management (BRM) and Advanced Analytics.  As a result the giant Platform vendors have helped create visibility for this discipline.  Lots of tiny clues finally bubbled up in 2010 to attest of the increasing activity around Decision Management.  For example, more products than ever were named Decision Manager; companies advertised for Decision Managers as a job title in their job section; most people understand what I do when I am introduced in a social setting!
  2. Boredom: unfortunately, as the industry matures, inevitably innovation slows down…  At the main BRMS shows we heard here and there complaints that the technology was stalling.  We heard it from vendors like Red Hat (Drools) and we heard it from bored end-users hoping for some excitement at Business Rules Forum’s vendor panel.  They sadly did not get it
  3. Scrum: I am not thinking about the methodology there!  If you have ever seen a rugby game, you can probably understand why this is the term that comes to mind when I look at the messy & confusing technology landscape.  Feet blindly try to kick the ball out while superhuman forces are moving randomly the whole pack – or so it felt when I played!  Business Users in search of Business Solutions are facing more and more technology choices that feel like comparing apples to oranges.  There is value in all of them and each one addresses a specific aspect of Decision Management but I regret that the industry did not simplify the picture in 2010.  On the contrary!  Many buzzwords were created or at least made popular last year, creating even more confusion on a muddy field.  A few examples: Social CRM, Collaborative Decision Making, Adaptive Case Management, etc.  Don’t take me wrong, I *do* like the technologies.  I sympathize with the decision maker that is trying to pick the right solution though.
  4. Information: Analytics have been used for years of course but the volume of data surrounding us has been growing to unparalleled levels.  We can blame or thank (depending on our perspective) Social Media for that.  Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn have made it possible and easy to publish relevant (as well as fluffy) information in real-time.  As we all started to get the hang of it and potentially over-publish, technology evolved to enable the storage, correlation and analysis of humongous volumes of data that we could not dream of before.  25 billion tweets were posted in 2010.  Every month, over 30 billion pieces of data are shared on Facebook alone.  This is not just about vanity and marketing though.  This data can be leveraged for the greater good.  Carlos pointed to some fascinating facts about catastrophic event response team getting organized thanks to crowd-sourced information.  We are also seeing, in the Decision management world, more and more applicability for those very technology that have been developed for the needs of Big Data – I’ll name for example Hadoop that Carlos (yet again) discussed in his talks at Rules Fest end of 2009 and 2010.
  5. Self-Organization: it may be a side effect of the Social Media movement but I must admit that I was impressed by the success of self-organizing initiatives.  Granted, this last trend has nothing to do with Decision Management per se but I think it is a great evolution worth noting.  Let me point to a couple of examples.  I usually attend traditional conferences and tradeshows in which the content can be good but is sometimes terrible.  I was pleasantly surprised by the professionalism and attendance at *un-conferences* such as P-Camp (P stands for Product – an event for Product Managers).  When you think about it, it is already difficult to get a show together when people are dedicated to the tasks.  How crazy is it to have volunteers set one up with no budget and no agenda?  Well, people simply show up to do their part and everyone has fun voting on-site for what seems the most appealing content at the time.  Crowdsourcing applied to shows: it works!  Similar experience with meetups or tweetups.  I also enjoyed attending some impromptu Twitter jam sessions on a given topic.  Social Media is certainly helping people reach out and get together in person or virtually and that is wonderful!

A segment of a social network
Image via Wikipedia

What are the top three trends you see in 2011?

  1. Performance:  I might be cheating here.   I was very bullish about predicting much progress for 2010 in the area of Performance Management in your Decision Management initiatives.  I believe that progress was made but Carlos did not give me full credit for the right prediction…  Okay, I am a little optimistic on timeline…  I admit it…  If it did not fully happen in 2010, can I predict it again in 2011?  I think that companies want to better track their business performance in order to correct the trajectory of course but also to improve their projections.  I see that it is turning into reality already here and there.  I expect it to become a trend in 2011!
  2. Insight: Big Data being available all around us with new technologies and algorithms will continue to propagate in 2011 leading to more widely spread Analytics capabilities.  The buzz at Analytics shows on Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a sign that there is interest in those kinds of things.  There is tremendous information that can be leveraged for smart decision-making.  I think there will be more of that in 2011 as initiatives launches in 2010 will mature into material results.
    5 Ways to Cultivate an Active Social Network
    Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr
  3. Collaboration:  Social Media for the Enterprise is a discipline in the making.  Social Media was initially seen for the most part as a Marketing channel.  Over the years, companies have started experimenting with external communities and ideation capabilities with moderate success.  The few strategic initiatives started in 2010 by “old fashion” companies seem to be an indication that we are past the early adopters.  This discipline may very well materialize in 2011 as a core capability, well, or at least a new trend.  I believe that capabilities such Chatter, offered by Salesforce, will transform (slowly) how people interact in the workplace and leverage the volumes of social data captured in LinkedIn and other Social Media sites.  Collaboration is of course a topic of interest for me personally.  I even signed up for Kare Anderson’s collaboration collaboration site – yes, twice the word “collaboration”: it is really about collaborating on collaboration techniques.  Even though collaboration does not require Social Media, this medium offers perspectives not available until now.

Brief Bio-

Carole-Ann is a renowned guru in the Decision Management space. She created the vision for Decision Management that is widely adopted now in the industry. Her claim to fame is the strategy and direction of Blaze Advisor, the then-leading BRMS product, while she also managed all the Decision Management tools at FICO (business rules, predictive analytics and optimization). She has a vision for Decision Management both as a technology and a discipline that can revolutionize the way corporations do business, and will never get tired of painting that vision for her audience. She speaks often at Industry conferences and has conducted university classes in France and Washington DC.

Leveraging her Masters degree in Applied Mathematics / Computer Science from a “Grande Ecole” in France, she started her career building advanced systems using all kinds of technologies — expert systems, rules, optimization, dashboarding and cubes, web search, and beta version of database replication – as well as conducting strategic consulting gigs around change management.

She now tweets as @CMatignon, blogs at blog.sparklinglogic.com and interacts at community.sparklinglogic.com.

She started her career building advanced systems using all kinds of technologies — expert systems, rules, optimization, dashboarding and cubes, web search, and beta version of database replication.  At Cleversys (acquired by Kurt Salmon & Associates), she also conducted strategic consulting gigs mostly around change management.

While playing with advanced software components, she found a passion for technology and joined ILOG (acquired by IBM).  She developed a growing interest in Optimization as well as Business Rules.  At ILOG, she coined the term BRMS while brainstorming with her Sales counterpart.  She led the Presales organization for Telecom in the Americas up until 2000 when she joined Blaze Software (acquired by Brokat Technologies, HNC Software and finally FICO).

Her 360-degree experience allowed her to gain appreciation for all aspects of a software company, giving her a unique perspective on the business.  Her technical background kept her very much in touch with technology as she advanced.

She also became addicted to Twitter in the process.  She is active on all kinds of social media, always looking for new digital experience!

Outside of work, Carole-Ann loves spending time with her two boys.  They grow fruits in their Northern California home and cook all together in the French tradition.

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TwitterFollow me on Twitter

Filtering to Gain Social Network Value
Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr
Social Networks Hype Cycle
Image by fredcavazza via Flickr

R for Predictive Modeling:Workshop

A view of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge...
Image via Wikipedia

A workshop on using R for Predictive Modeling, by the Director, Non Clinical Stats, Pfizer. Interesting Bay Area Event- part of next edition of Predictive Analytics World

Sunday, March 13, 2011 in San Francisco

R for Predictive Modeling:
A Hands-On Introduction

Intended Audience: Practitioners who wish to learn how to execute on predictive analytics by way of the R language; anyone who wants “to turn ideas into software, quickly and faithfully.”

Knowledge Level: Either hands-on experience with predictive modeling (without R) or hands-on familiarity with any programming language (other than R) is sufficient background and preparation to participate in this workshop.


Workshop Description

This one-day session provides a hands-on introduction to R, the well-known open-source platform for data analysis. Real examples are employed in order to methodically expose attendees to best practices driving R and its rich set of predictive modeling packages, providing hands-on experience and know-how. R is compared to other data analysis platforms, and common pitfalls in using R are addressed.

The instructor, a leading R developer and the creator of CARET, a core R package that streamlines the process for creating predictive models, will guide attendees on hands-on execution with R, covering:

  • A working knowledge of the R system
  • The strengths and limitations of the R language
  • Preparing data with R, including splitting, resampling and variable creation
  • Developing predictive models with R, including decision trees, support vector machines and ensemble methods
  • Visualization: Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA), and tools that persuade
  • Evaluating predictive models, including viewing lift curves, variable importance and avoiding overfitting

Hardware: Bring Your Own Laptop
Each workshop participant is required to bring their own laptop running Windows or OS X. The software used during this training program, R, is free and readily available for download.

Attendees receive an electronic copy of the course materials and related R code at the conclusion of the workshop.


Schedule

  • Workshop starts at 9:00am
  • Morning Coffee Break at 10:30am – 11:00am
  • Lunch provided at 12:30 – 1:15pm
  • Afternoon Coffee Break at 2:30pm – 3:00pm
  • End of the Workshop: 4:30pm

Instructor

Max Kuhn, Director, Nonclinical Statistics, Pfizer

Max Kuhn is a Director of Nonclinical Statistics at Pfizer Global R&D in Connecticut. He has been apply models in the pharmaceutical industries for over 15 years.

He is a leading R developer and the author of several R packages including the CARET package that provides a simple and consistent interface to over 100 predictive models available in R.

Mr. Kuhn has taught courses on modeling within Pfizer and externally, including a class for the India Ministry of Information Technology.

 

http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/sanfrancisco/2011/r_for_predictive_modeling.php