2021 is the 10th anniversary of one of my favorite movies: Moneyball. If you haven’t seen it, rent it tonight. It’s a fast-paced, rollercoaster of a film starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Best of all, it provides an important lesson about breaking out of old paradigms of thinking.
Moneyball tells the story of how the Oakland A’s upended the entire industry of major league baseball by applying data analytics and human intelligence to the process of valuing players. The central premise was that the collective wisdom of baseball insiders was outdated. Needing If you wanted to do “more with less”, the A’s needed a breakthrough new strategy.
Moneyball (Data Analytics) is a rallying cry to more business sectors than just professional baseball. There is a lot of water utility infrastructure dating back to Ted Williams and Willie Mays. How can we think about using data and insight to manage our water systems better?
Here are three ways the water industry can start playing Moneyball to drive performance.
1. Moneyball is about expanding our frame of mind to find entirely new solutions to old challenges.
Habits are hard to break. Humans are engineered to feel more comfortable in familiar paradigms. The way baseball players were evaluated hadn’t changed in a century. Any suggestion that there was a better way felt threatening to some. Others were just skeptical. It took the Oakland A’s to put Moneyball on the map by proving you could get more productivity by turning convention on its head.
In water, traditional SCADA alarms and annual leak detection surveys have been in place for a long time. While these processes and protocols may feel as comfortable as old shoes, there are new tools that can deliver 24/7 insight and visibility into to water systems that are available through real-time sensoring, data and analytics.
2. Moneyball is about more than data. It’s about the right data.
For more than a century, baseball players were evaluated on what was thought to be tried-and-true statistics, such as stolen bases, runs batted in and batting average. But, it turns out, there are other statistics that provide better insight to help teams win games.
In the same way, remote monitoring and insight of water systems bring new metrics that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. Now utility managers can see how localized system pressures and flow rates, break histories and operational schedules interrelate to enable smarter operational decision making.
3. Moneyball does not devalue the human’s role, it enhances it.
Today, virtually all baseball teams employ analytics. But you’ll notice that it hasn’t put scouts, managers and front-office staff out of a job. Rather, it has empowered executives and staffs to be better at their jobs. Data and analytics are merely tools that allow people to make more effective decision-making.
In the same way, Aquify’s Remote Insight and Management solution isn’t about “robotizing” the decision-making of water utilities. Far from it, the insights gained from 24/7 remote monitoring and analysis makes water managers better at what they do.
Just like it was the Oakland A’s that were the first-movers in baseball to be soon followed by everyone else, there are water utilities that are today installing sensors and getting real-time insight to manage pressure and find leaks that would be hard to find otherwise.
And these first movers are gaining tremendous return on investment. Through saved water and saved money, these utilities are reaping rewards far beyond their initial investment.
We would love to have a conversation with you on how water utilities can play Moneyball.