A few months ago, I enquired about the CEP platform and was met by correspondence from Mark Upton. His name was familiar through the resources he has previously posted. Equally, Mark had come across the “workflow evolution” video and my Cardiff Met (UWIC) role… so straight away the Internet had formed awareness and natural introductions; so we were not complete strangers.
At Cardiff Met, it is important to create environments that support academic, vocational and employability development. We therefore have access to a variety of hardware, software and online solutions for the MSc students to explore and establish an awareness of the market.
The CEP video demos of the site portray the platform perfectly, but there is no substitute for personal access and exploration. As lab director, I was particularly interested in the core purpose and functionality, pricing structures and client base, and to test the ergonomic integration with other software.
What transpired over time, was an interesting sub-discussion which I proposed could be mounted as a blog as there were common thoughts worth sharing; to which Mark agreed. The following excerpts remain unedited, but have been restructured to facilitate conversational flow:
DC: For me, it is clear that companies with complementary skillsets, services and products are stronger aligned as ‘associates’ as no person or company is the whole/finished article. It allows great awareness of the field and high capacity to create solutions required to drive and impact the industry.
MU: The last point you made is a particularly interesting one – how to collaborate effectively with others to provide good solutions, particularly in the PA field that is obviously shaped significantly by the rapid evolution of technology. It seems by having a community of contributors you could provide solutions that keep up with the rate of change and opportunities that arise.
DC: I think the chase of technology has raced ahead, but question whether the capacity to utilise it has? The current process and the people applying existing tools are sufficient; and are yet to be maximised in the majority of cases. There is still a battle to engagement and sometimes the core impact is through simple extraction of key video and data, interpreting it, and communicating it effectively. With cost of maintenance and constant technological advances, budgets do not stretch for the majority of teams. There needs to be a focus on the principle of PA, rather than the new products. Finally, and most importantly, I would sacrifice new feature sets for stability in software performance every time.
MU: Agree with capacity to utilise technology more so than the actual technology itself. One exception is online technology and standards, which are still to mature fully (i.e. video delivery protocols are still very fragmented). I think PA is only just getting a taste of how Internet technologies will play a significant role in the future. I can see most analysis tools and software becoming cloud-based (“software as a service”), which will enable enhanced analysis and sharing of video/data.
DC: You are spot on with the cloud-based solutions, but this can only form part of the process when wireless networks are more complete and robust (especially in stadia).
MU: Wireless is not there yet, which has a greater role to play in real-time analysis during games. In terms of wired Internet access, my work place has had access to a high-speed connection in the last 12 months, which has created opportunity to efficiently share and distribute video.
DC: It is important the new technology makes the process simpler and more accessible. This would really help break down the barriers to participation – fear of technology and cost of entry – and assist the critical coach/analyst culture to spread.
MU: Absolutely – we are seeing that with devices (i.e. iPad) that are not only intuitive for my 4-year-old son to use, but coaches as well. One non-tech savvy coach I work with was actually quite excited when he got his new iPad and regularly uses it for work-related tasks. This is a massive change to the normal reaction of coaches and use of technology. I think another thing that draws the coach in is good use of visuals to represent data (i.e. charts, “traffic light” indicators) – assists in making data more accessible and simpler to understand.
DC: The connection is certainly in the realm of linking IT, educational technology and sport specific knowledge to ensure the learning impact is made in the development of coaches/players/teams.
MU: Also agree, above all else, that the integration of PA into the coaching process is what still requires the most work. We need to educate coaches and also realise that the communication and relationships between coaches and analysts is just as, if not more, important than the data. If the coach is a “closed book” or doesn’t understand how to apply the data, then it is just a waste of time and resources. That is where I think people with experience in both fields (coaching and analysis) are becoming more critical – they are the “connectors” (I think that might be a Seth Godin term!). I think this “connector” role could perhaps be called a “coaching technologist” – understanding and experience in coaching, analytics, how people learn (skill acquisition), and ultimately how technology can assist in all these areas.
I hope this catalyses some thoughts to open discussion/debate.