Building and Distributing Modern Data. Who Cares?

Crunk had a nice post about data today. It's not sexy like drugs, or stewards, or who is going to start in the Pegasus World Cup, and it's not exactly click bait. But it's a really good piece everyone should, in my view, read.

Disruption is a word often used wrongly, and almost always used in some derogatory fashion.  It's like a Bond villain, who is up to no good. He's loosening double-oh-seven's ski boots, so he'll ski to a horrible death, or other such things (which to me seems odd, because most villains have guns and could just shoot him, but I digress).

Regardless, disruption is not a bad thing. It usually ends up being a good thing. For consumers, and the future of a business.

Innovation and disruption was first spoken about by a smart Harvard fella, who wrote a book called the "Innovator's Dilemma". There are innovations that are soft (he called them "sustainable" innovations). These tweak the current landscape, and look for incremental improvements of a product. "StatsLens" by Equibase, as Crunk notes, is this type of innovation. There are others which are disruptive, which can open new markets, and use them to your advantage.

Modernizing horse racing data -  creating a seamless pipeline of inputs and working to sell, or distribute, those outputs - is a chance to open new markets, and sell to them.

People lament that horse racing is old, that you need to sit for hours to find a bet, reading a paper racing form your grandfather great-grandfather used. A lot of people, in fact, love to do that. But what if horse racing data was more like Stats LLC, or MLBAM, which has data that tracks player movements and launch angles and just about everything else?

Me or you might use this data to model stride length, speed, wind and other factors to create better speed figures. We could use that to model energy distribution. There's no doubt we could do some amazing stuff with that.

Now, with these stats, let's say we find out that they can predict winners, while the race is being run. We are not the only ones. Some whiz kids somewhere found out similar. Now, what if demand for in-running wagering increases exponentially because of this data?

Well, this data was just thrown out into the landscape. It was inert. It wasn't created to service an existing product.

What if, in 25 years, this data spawns a new way to play the Derby or other races. What if millions are bet on the Derby yes, but hundreds of millions are traded during the race itself? That's a whole new market and a new revenue stream for horse racing, created simply by making new, cutting edge data available.

This inert data - the data not created to service an existing product - actually created a new product

The above is just an example, that probably will never happen, nor work, but the point I am trying to make is, good ideas, growth for an industry, new markets, and new products, rarely come from the business itself, or what we know in the here and now. This is probably exacerbated in horse racing, because so many are monopolies or duopolies.

New ideas, new products and new innovations occur because a table is set for the marketplace to innovate and find new markets and products.

Modernizing horse racing data might seem like nothing to some - especially those who like to sit outside on a sunny day reading the racing form. But it means a lot. It can find, create and exploit new markets, no matter how old your business or betting game is.


Anonymous said...

But there are already many services that digest at least some of that data for us and offer it at what I consider a reasonable price. Despite their availability for years, their use remains quite limited in the world of horseplayers.

Now calculating, say, speed figures, will give a better understanding of what’s involved, how they can be used and what’s lacking in using them. The basic figures takes time, perhaps “just” 15-20 minutes a day on average; I’ve never found autocalculation to be effective much of the time. Then adjustments need to be made for each horse. Plus, repeat that for each track one needs to follow and keep it up nearly daily (or else) in the case of a year-round track or circuit. Further, this is only one factor which will have to be weighted against others which you will also have to collect and digest. How much commitment does one have to DIY in racing?

And picks based on recorded hard data can be completely subsumed by other factors. Missing a washed-out horse in the paddock can cost you. Not knowing that connections intend taking back a horse whose only winning style is wire-to-wire can cost you. If this reminds you of the 2015 Breeders Cup, your memory is correct.

Tinky said...

"This inert data - the data not created to service an existing product - actually created a new product. "

No, it didn't (or wouldn't). The product exists today, and is used on every fixed odds, P2P platform that offers in-play wagering.

What the data that you describe could do is to further catalyze the existing product, or in the U.S., help to broaden its use. And I agree with you completely that this sort of creative thinking should be emphasized.


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