As sports technology grows by leaps and bounds, major league baseball organizations are learning how to take advantage of information about players' past performances to improve their in-the-moment decision making.
That kind of reaction time wouldn't be possible without a strong IT leader in the dugout. Steve Conley, director of IT for the Boston Red Sox, and his IT team are essentially the team's power hitter, providing sports technology tools that allow players to perform at the highest level, game in and game out.
SearchCIO-Midmarket.com Editorial Assistant Miki Onwudinjo recently had the opportunity to chat with Conley about how the Boston Red Sox approach and use sports technology to the team's benefit. Read the transcript below, and listen to the full podcast to hear what Conley draws from baseball that inspires his IT work, and how today's technologies are both figuratively and literally hitting a home run.
What attracts you to the IT field?
Steve Conley: New challenges. New tricks. Ways to just do things more efficiently. Keeping up with just how things change so rapidly. There's always a challenge to make something work. It never gets old.
What do you love most about baseball?
Conley: I really like the fact that it's a game that's designed to make you fail, and those who fail less succeed. It's extremely challenging. And as you start to get into the deeper parts of the game, it's just so much fun to understand, to adjust the strategy. And just different ways that these guys are playing a mental game as well as a physical [one].
What is it like working for the Boston Red Sox IT department?
Conley: I think the coolest thing that we put together was -- and it's been now 10 years -- [is] the video system. It has expanded and evolved over that time. Essentially, we created a system that the team carries with them on the road where they capture every at-bat, and after that at-bat happens, the player can review it on the computer immediately and be able to learn from at-bat to at-bat. But on top of that, they have every batter-pitcher breakdown in the Major League since about 2004 at their disposal, so they can call up any pitcher in any count to see if they can get an edge. And the players use that extensively. It's pretty cool.
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What lessons have you learned from sports that you can use in the IT office?
Conley: You're never going to win everything. You just have to approach it, you know, approach it either as a win or a loss with a professional attitude, and don't get too high and don't get too low.
What separates the technology of sports from other industry-specific IT jobs?
Conley: There are some [job tasks] that specialize in regards to sports, where you have to deal with stadium-specific needs. But there's a significant amount of overlap. I would say about 15% of what we do is specific to sports, and the rest is the IT needs that you would find regardless of the industry.
For more on Conley's view on sports and IT leadership, listen to the full podcast.
Miki Onwudinjo is an editorial assistant at TechTarget and a fourth-year journalism student at Northeastern University in Boston. Let us know what you think about the story; email Wendy Schuchart, Site Editor. For midmarket IT news and updates throughout the week, follow us on Twitter @ciomidmarket.
This was first published in February 2013