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Fantasy Sports Dashboards
Leading BI Into The Future

by William Laurent, William Laurent, Inc.Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This year, the word “dashboard” started to become etched in the consciousness of the greater public, helped in large part by Yahoo’s Political Dashboard which kept score on the U.S election as it progressed from the starting blocks to finish line. As we head toward the close of this decade, dashboards are becoming an indispensable component of daily internet life for the wired masses. In a strange twist of fate (almost stranger than fiction) some of the most prominent and sophisticated dashboards are those that are being utilized for fantasy sports. In fact, fiction is driving real life: Many of the dashboard implementations that exist in virtual sports worlds easily trump what are currently being passed off as Business Intelligence (BI) platforms in the world of big business and corporate performance management.

The irony is indeed sublime. Not only do many of the sports dashboards have the jump on corporate business dashboards in terms of functionality, data integration, and data distribution, fantasy sports “owners” can now perform better statistical analysis and glean keener competitive intelligence from these statistics than the front-office managers of real-life professional sports teams themselves.

The phenomenal growth of fantasy sports leagues is anything but science fiction. Recent studies are espousing that over 20 million people age 12 and higher in the USA and Canada play fantasy sports; what is more, 34.5 million people in these countries have played fantasy sports to varying degrees in the past. Neilsen Surveys have estimated that fantasy sports have a $4 billion dollar annual economic impact across all North American sports industries.

I am sure all my readers are more or less familiar with the fantasy sports concept, but in case anybody out there has been living in a cave for the last few years -- fantasy sports are essentially online leagues where people “own” and build a virtual team by drafting real-life players from major league sports teams. As would be expected, the most popular sports are overwhelmingly baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. Throughout the course of the league season, fantasy team owners win or lose depending on how successful their virtual roster of athletes is performing in predetermined statistical categories and injury avoidance. Frequently there is a pool of money at stake for the winners of fantasy leagues but, otherwise, fantasy sports offer rabid fans a novel way to follow and experience the sport(s) they love.

Nevertheless, it is vital that a fantasy sport team’s owner can monitor his/her team in real time so they can tweak their line-up of players based on “just-in-time” sports news, player alerts, insider advice, blogs, forums, or other customized content that gives them an edge over their competition. As one can deduce, the virtual team owner’s need for massive amounts of sports-oriented transactional and reference data has given rise to elaborate and intricate dashboards that promise to help them capture more win shares.

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