Going Beyond Surface Data

tennis racket

a shadow beneath the surface of a racket

Working in the business analytics arena, I’m always interested to learn about the myriad ways that organizational and business data can be mined and explored to reveal insights for enhanced decision-making, productivity and overall business improvement.

What excites me the most is when I hear about businesses that are using data mining and data analytics techniques to improve our quality and way of life.

One way of life is the way that we play (in my case, tennis, that is).

As a USTA League tennis player, you can imagine how excited I was to read about consumer sports analytics system provider PlaySight Interactive Ltd. and its new PlaySight™ Smart Court, which captures a player’s on-the-court performance data and enables the player to access a plethora of real-time and post-match, personal performance statistics. Talk about awesome!

While considering the concept of PlaySight Smart Courts and how the technology enables players to go beyond the court surface to discover new insights into their personal tennis games, I recently began to think a bit more philosophically and wondered…exactly how much lies beyond the surface of our lives?

What about you? How would you answer that question?

I tend to think that the universes inside each of us seem hidden and that we often make assumptions about others, based on surface realities that we see without “Smart Court”-access to their truths and feelings.

Would you agree? When you interact with others, how often do you consider what’s not being said? And, how often do you consider what you may be missing, as you consider their points of view?

While driving my car and listening to the SiriusXM radio Bluegrass Junction channel 61 earlier this week, I heard Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers sing their fantastic tune, Some Kind of War, a song that includes a lyric of advice that I think is appropriate to share as the conclusion of this post:

Lord, help me stop and understand, before I rush to judge my fellow man.


  1. The analysis you describe is what coaches in most countries do for kids in Europe except some countries like UK. No surprises then Andy Murray lived his teens in Spain to learn tennis.

    I suppose one thing Big Data could pick out is how often your views of someone are dictated by one or two incidents rather than the whole truth e.g. on a quiz team I might think someone is brilliant because of 1 or 2 contributions that are noticeable but that statistically they’re not great (sort of like what happens on the Weakest Link all the time). That could be documented by hand, but a machine can do it without tiring or being biased e.g. forgetting or fudging data.

    Maybe if I take golf up again I could do with putting sensors in my ball and clubs and having a little machine spot things for me. Psychology is hugely important in golf but sometimes we get so caught up in trying to think positive that we miss things that a machine would unemotionally find. E.g. when I was a kid I often put the ball in a lake on the 13th fairway down my local club – I thought it was psychological until someone pointed out that the reason was the way the ground subtly sloped down behind the lake. From then on I addressed the ball accordingly and never hit the lake much.

    • Thanks for reading my post, Liam. Interesting idea about analyzing how many incidents may dictate one’s views. Also, I play golf on occasion and agree that analyzing self-performance data on the greens would likely make a difference and yield improvements. Gotta keep the balls out of the ponds! 🙂

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