The new movie Moneyball (and the book on which it is based) extol the virtues of employing nontraditional thinking and measurement in major league baseball.Oscar-nominated film Moneyball has inspired a data revolution of sorts within the field of human resources. Like Brad Pitt’s character in the movie, numerous HR professionals are embracing the value of data and dedicating a great deal of time to analysis in an effort to determine the best HR moves for their organizations.
Most baseball fans are familiar with one of the more successful applications of the principles of analytics and business intelligence (BI). Back in 2002 the Oakland A’s were faced with a relatively small budget of $41 million. The general manager of the team, Billy Beane, who is played by Brad Pitt in the movie that was created based on the book called “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” famously called on the analytics talents of Paul DePodesta to help build a team of players that could compete against teams with budgets that were three to four times the size of what the Oakland A’s could afford.
In baseball, as in other sports, the depth and breadth of performance measures now applied to the game make early pioneers like Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane–recently portrayed by Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball–look like dabbling amateurs. In fact, robust analytic capabilities are now table stakes for any professional team hoping to play at even or better odds.
The fascination with analytics is understandable. How better can one achieve competitive advantage in a manner that is hard to replicate? But clearly there is a long way to go to enable managers to practice this kind of data-driven decision making. It will require dedicated talent who combine analytic ability with a basic understanding of the business, as well as increased attention given to analytics (the “new managerial economics?”) in business school and traditional economics curricula.