Cognos Insight Challenge: Whose team are you on?

Arguably one of the most important decisions of all is deciding which sporting team has the pleasure of your passionate support.  Make the wrong decision, and you spend every weekend banging your head against the wall, and every Monday morning in the office being reminded of it.  Make the right decision, and you enjoy a weekend of celebrations followed by a week of bragging rights.

Many had this decision made for them by their parents before they were born.  Some chose based on team location or uniform colors.  Some of us even married into an allegiance.  This is not the case for the newest member to our local team who recently moved here from sports-mad Scotland – so I took it upon myself to make sure he could make a more informed decision about which team to support.

Okay, let’s be honest.  My first response to his question of which AFL team to support was to put forward a compelling business case for the Essendon Bombers.  I launched into a speech about how great the club was, and how the team inspires leadership, and of all the clubs they’re the one you’d most want your sons to play for.  Unfortunately their performance of late meant this speech fell on deaf ears (and just quietly, some sniggering and laughter from the rest of the team).

There are many ways to approach team selection.  You could, for example, select the team that is winning.  This is perhaps the most obvious choice, but one with short term benefits and not a lot of long term gain.  Chances are the team is at it’s peak, might win the flag, team members will retire, and suddenly you have a young, inexperienced team with a good ten years of “rebuilding” ahead of them.

You could also elect the team that makes you proud – one that instills the right values in your children and gives them a reason to be good sportsmen and women in their own chosen sports.  Of course, that puts Essendon at the top of the list, and media-prone clubs such as West Coast, Collingwood and Carlton at the bottom 😉

Or, you could select the team that is most likely to win at the venues and times you’ll be attending games.  Perhaps this method is a little unusual – but hear me out.  What is more important, winning the flag at the end of the year and having a few days of fun?  Or, winning games that you attend throughout the year in which you can share and celebrate the glory?

It was along this line of decision making that I turned to IBM Cognos Insight to work out which teams perform well at local venues on the days and times Alan will most likely attend.  In previous Cognos Insight Challenges, I used the drag-and-drop features of Cognos Insight to simply drop my Execl spreadsheet in to the desktop application and let it work out the structures for me.  This time, I wanted a little more control over the hierarchies for dates and rounds, and so I used the data import wizard to load my data in, ready for analysis.  It didn’t take long to whip something up that would give Alan the ability to analyse individual team performance over the past three seasons.

With great embarrassment, here’s how it looked for the Essendon Bombers.

If I’d ever doubted the benefit of visualizing information, this process would have completely restored my faith.  As someone who doesn’t know a lot about football, I was able to spark up a mildly intelligent conversation with my husband about the fact that Hawthorn had not managed to beat Geelong in the past seven games – an amazing feat given their performance against other teams.  Yet again, in a short space of time I was able to derive insight from an unknown data set and be more informed when it came to making decisions about which team to support.


The full AFL Team Analytics application is available on Analytics Zone for download, along with a trial version of the IBM Cognos Insight software.  Once downloaded, you’ll be able to compare the performance of all teams in the league and add your own data and insight – perhaps incorporating predictive insight into which teams are most likely to win and community sentiment about *certain* teams in the league.  🙂