Human Digital inspired by baseball

November 4th, 2011

The forthcoming release of Moneyball – the screen adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book bearing the same name – is significant, not just for fans of Brad Pitt and baseball, but for marketing and communications professionals.

The film tells the story of the coach of the perennial underperforming Oakland Athletic baseball team, Billy Beane, who transformed Baseball by using Wall Street style statistical modelling to buy better players for less money.

In a world where the aesthetic quality of a player (and his girlfriend) were deemed the best indicators of prowess on the field, Billy Beane understood that objectively analysing a players’ performance data (and not worrying too much about whether he was packing a few extra pounds) was a far more reliable guide to buying great players. His winning streak was the ultimate demonstration of ROI.

The marketing industry, like baseball before Billy Beane, still uses aesthetic quality as its yardstick of success and yet we have access to far more data than Billy Beane could have dreamed of with which we could – and will - transform our industry.

Change is in the air. IBM’s CMO survey, also out this week, shows 63% of CMOs believe demonstrating ROI from their marketing activity will be the most important measure of their personal success by 2015.

Latest figures from a leading Search and Selection firm servicing the marketing industry report an unprecedented rise in demand for roles with the words, "Data" and "Analyst" in them. Evidently some like Billy Beane, have already started to import data mining and statistical analysis techniques into their way of working

“Correlations coefficient” “Monte Carlo output”, “statistical noise” - strange words from a world many have yet to discover – but which for a growing number of us over the next 5 years will enter our lexicon and revolutionise the way we conduct and measure marketing activity.

In the meantime, here’s the Moneyball trailer. See you in the queue.