All work and no play is simply no fun. But what if you could mix play into your work, while changing the future at the same time? That is the reality at Accenture where people innovate every day using the latest technological advances to deliver creative solutions to clients across a wide variety of industries—including sports and entertainment.
Today’s sports fans expect instant, continuous access to their favorite teams and players, and technology gives them the ability to interact like never before. As the Official Technology Partner of the RBS 6 Nations Championship, Europe’s premier annual rugby event, Accenture is changing the future of sport and business.
For the 2016 event, Accenture Analytics teams developed a wearable virtual-reality (VR) concept to bring the fan experience to life with the flick of a wrist. RBS 6 Nations fans enjoyed a cinematic, full-body, mixed-reality experience allowing virtual interaction with life-sized players and real-time virtual action broadcasts.
As a huge fan of the Irish Rugby National Team, Accenture Digital Consultant John Flynn was eager to combine his passion for the sport with his technical analytical skills to work on the 2017 event project. With a team of over 15 people working during the tournament, John was the Predictive Modelling Lead, using advanced analytics and machine learning techniques to predict scores for the tournament. We asked him about the results of the project and what his work with the RBS 6 Nations Championship has meant for his career.
What were the parameters of this project?
The overall aim was to predict the winner of the RBS 6 Nations tournament. To do this, we broke it down match-by-match and team-by-team so we were predicting how many points each team would score in each match. With the introduction of bonus points into this year’s tournament, it was important we could predict whether the score would be within seven points and if a team would score four or more tries. Using different characteristics for each event—the teams each were playing against, their ranking, the match location, previous history between the teams—we used a regression model to predict the number of points and tries scored.
So, how accurate were you?
We successfully predicted the correct outcome in 80 percent of this year’s matches. There were several surprising results this year, most notably, Scotland beating both Ireland and Wales, which unfortunately we couldn’t account for!
What was the most interesting or rewarding part of the work?
It was really amazing to see how detailed and accurate the data was for each match—down to the tackles made and whether the tackle was important or not. It was interesting to look at the statistics and see the contrasting style of players reflected in them. For example, back-row forwards who are more adept at winning turnovers, versus those who are more defensive players and make lots of tackles.
From an analytics point of view, it was a really interesting challenge. As there are only 15 games each season, you are working with very few data points—only 150 data points when using 10 years of history. It was also a great opportunity to improve my technical skills, using Python (programming language) and machine-learning techniques.
In terms of my career, I’m eager to get more experience on exciting projects with multinational clients, and I’m looking forward to further developing my technical skills.
Why did you choose Accenture?
I think the best thing about joining Accenture is the people you get to work with. Not only are you working across a variety of industries, but you’re working with people who are experts in their area. And while you may work hard, there’s a strong emphasis on work-life balance through the many clubs and societies offered.
John is a Consultant with the Accenture Digital practice in Dublin, Ireland. He joined the firm in October 2015, having completed a MSc. in Business Analytics in the Smurfit Graduate Business School. He also holds a BSc. in Economics & Finance from University College Dublin. Outside of the office, his main interests are sports related, particularly rugby and soccer.
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