Before the first kick-off for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, hopes already ran high for Team Germany. It ranked second on the pre-tournament FIFA world ranking, after Spain, and had three World Cup wins under its belt — the third-highest after Brazil (five) and Italy (four). Despite having the odds in their favour, the Germans still had causes for concern.

For one, the last time Germany won the World Cup was 24 years ago in 1990 when the two halves of Germany still existed as separate territories. Also, even though Germany tied with Brazil for the most World Cup Final appearances (seven), they had lost the title more times (four) than any other team in history.

To secure another win for Germany, the team decided to turn to an unlikely ally: data — lots and lots of data.

How Big Data helped Germany win the World Cup in 2014

Right after the 2010 FIFA World Cup concluded, SAP, the German software company, measured and analysed not just the performance and strategies of individual players on the German team, but every other player that participated in the tournament as well.

These statistics were based on on-field cameras that surrounded the football fields, which tracked player statistics, such as the number of touches, movement speeds, and average possession time of the ball. SAP concluded that the average German player had the ball for 4.3 seconds — far too long for an aggressive playstyle. So for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the team picked up the pace and shaved their average ball possession down to just 1.1 seconds. 

The strategy worked wonders. Not only did Germany win the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a faster, more aggressive gameplay, they also trounced Brazil, the tournament favourite and hometown team, in the now infamous 7–1 game during the semi-finals. Germany also had the most wins (six) and scored the most goals (18) during the tournament.

Data powers everything we do

Football is not the only place where data has had a huge impact. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find an industry or sector that has not utilised data in some way to generate business benefits in the real world. If information is power in the future of business, the ability to collect, measure and analyse data will be your competitive edge.

But in a candidate-short market that is reportedly worsening, what are the most relevant skills that businesses should be focusing on to bring in? And with data trends evolving constantly, what kind of talent should businesses hire?

This is where our report, Humans of Data: Innovations and Hiring Trends in APAC, comes in. As part of the ABCs of Technology series, our report explores the latest tech and hiring trends in data, complete with insights and recommendations from data science leaders, hiring managers, as well as Michael Page consultants from across the Asia Pacific.

Report highlights:

  • How data science and analytics will evolve in 2021 and beyond
  • Top hiring trends in data     
  • Insights from data industry experts     
  • Tips to attract and retain data talent     

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