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Performance Intelligence Is the Gift That Keeps On Giving

Performance Intelligence brings people together all year round


Stephen Smith


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Coming into the Christmas holiday season, recent sports news reminds us that performance intelligence is the gift that keeps on giving: it unites organizations and their partners around their data to advance the goals that matter most. And everyone’s getting into the spirit.

From FIFA to the NFL, we’ve had plenty of evidence lately that big organizations are recognizing that performance intelligence is a lot more than just mining data and running analytics. It is not just a thing they do, it’s a way of doing things — a philosophy, an operating system. And, very appropriately for the Christmas season, this operating system is designed to bring people together.

“A way of treating people”

Let’s start with The Guardian’s interview of Brighton manager Graham Potter and how he approaches data. Reporter Jonathan Liew keys in on Potter’s thinking: “The point is that anyone can mine the data and tell you a seductive story. But what Brighton are trying to do is more than a story: it’s a way of doing things, a way of playing football, a way of treating people.”

Potter prefers to infuse contextualized data into Brighton’s broader culture because it empowers people. (This is a key element of performance intelligence and one I’ve written on previously.)  Asked about how he weights expected goals in talent acquisition decisions, Potter says, “It’s a piece of performance data that can tell you something. But you have to be careful as well. It doesn’t tell the whole story.”

Brighton is a prime example of Performance Intelligence aligning people around a culture at the club level, but the leagues are getting into the spirit, too.

Big Organizations Are Bringing Data Into the Heart of Their Teams

Whether it’s the PL or the NFL, in both environments, senior leaders are deciding data analytics is core to who they are. NFL chief data and analytics officer Paul Bellew recently explained the range of his team’s remit, and it is just staggering – from reducing concussions and injury, to better connecting with customers, to improving efficiency and business effectiveness of the operation as a whole. But look at his answer when he was asked if there was any part of the league that his team didn’t touch:

“I can’t think of any right now. We’re busy in so many ways. And it’s really a credit to the league that the league understands the need to fully embrace that what data analytics and the digitalization of the world really involves has to be brought in-house for us to take full advantage of it.”

The NFL has made a decision to be incredibly serious about how they use data analytics internally. At the same time, they also partner externally where it makes sense, taking a “build” and “buy” approach, saving time by leveraging external relationships while always ensuring data quality, consistency, and health. This uniting of internal departments and external experts around digitized data enables continuous improvement – another key component of performance intelligence.

The Performance Intelligence Spirit

At the global level, FIFA is embracing a Performance Intelligence spirit by allocating a team of specialists to analyze real-time data from FIFA Arab Cup 2021, with plans to share this data in a bid to aid global technical development among poorer countries. The amount is truly impressive: they collect more than 15,000 data points from every game. And that data is expected to have transformative results for less resourced clubs who would otherwise never get that kind of insight.

From Brighton to the NFL to FIFA, organizations are bringing performance intelligence into the core of their identity. That’s exactly where it belongs. Because while performance intelligence is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving, smart organizations look to keep this spirit all year round. I’ll be sharing thoughts on sport’s most impactful developments and news on an ongoing basis. I welcome your feedback on Twitter or at



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  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen is Kitman Labs’ CEO and founder. He was previously Senior Injury Rehabilitation & Conditioning Coach at Leinster Rugby Club. Stephen holds a BSc in Sport & Exercise Rehab and MSc in Football Rehab from Edgehill University.

    CEO & Founder of Kitman Labs


Kitman Labs Joins ‘More than Equal’ Quest To Develop First Female Formula 1 Champion

More than Equal’s mission is to close the gender gap in motor sports and find and develop the first female Formula 1 world champion. They will now have an advanced operating system to centralize data for female drivers participating in More than Equal’s pioneering Development Programme.