If you’ve spent any time around a sports fan over the past two months, you’ll know that two things have been on their mind: NCAA March Madness and the Super Bowl. Both are premiere sporting events in the United States, offering advertisers a world stage and athletes the opportunity for their “one shining moment”. With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship tonight, another college team will go home to celebrate the end of a storybook season. Personally, I’m excited for my hometown San Francisco Giants, who open the baseball season this week in pursuit of a World Series championship in an even year, as they have the past three times this decade.
For fans, these major sporting events are exciting to watch as well, regardless of whether their team is playing. Many opt to place bets on the matchups, with as much as $3 billion dollars exchanging hands for March Madness and $132.5 million for Super Bowl 50. That’s not all, however. A look at the calendar indicates more sporting events on the way like Major League Baseball, the NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, and even the NFL draft offer additional opportunities to prognosticate potential winners and losers.
Pass the chips and beer — it’s an exciting time to be on the couch.
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With such popularity around predicting sports outcomes, it’s no surprise that cloud and analytics would catch up at some point. That’s why I found Forsyth Alexander’s blog post on IBM’s Watson blog to be a fascinating read. Through a combination of statistical team rankings analysis, probability, and the cognitive software of IBM Watson, Alexander was able to fill out her 2016 NCAA March Madness Bracket. The results, however, have not been entirely accurate (1 out of the 4 teams in the Final 4 are correct — you can blame “intangibles” for that) — and that’s where the tournament gets its name.
Closer to home, these same ideas can be applied in the business world. In one example, we could leverage Watson’s capabilities to foresee company success and failure based on stock prices, social media following, and bottom line revenue. In another example, I could see Watson aiding a student in choosing what university they should attend based on graduation rates, alumni giving, and economic potential. Already we’ve seen Watson do amazing things in everything from healthcare management to offering helpful travel advice. If you were to add IBM Bluemix into the equation, the possibilities go even further, since developers can loop in additional applications to create more data points and experiences allowing for better decision-making.
In the end, the possibilities may start with sports, but the opportunities are truly endless. With Watson and the suite of IBM technologies, how we enjoy our sports teams, educate the future, and manage our health just took a step up.
I wonder what Watson thinks the San Francisco Giants’ odds are this year.
How do you think IBM’s cognitive cloud and DevOps solutions can aid your organization in predicting future outcomes? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @Perficient_IBM.
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