Big Data

Photos: Did this SAP big data software really help Germany win the World Cup?

Andre Schürrle's cross and Mario Götze's chest and volley may have won the World Cup for Germany in extra time but enterprise software giant SAP is claiming a hand in the victory.

Its Match Insights software, which employs SAP HANA in-memory computing, was originally taken up by Bundesliga side 1899 TSG Hoffenheim, which is about 20km from SAP's Walldorf headquarters near Heidelberg, south-west Germany.

In October last year, SAP and the German football association - or Deutsche Fußball-Bund - started collaborating on adapting the software for the German national team for final preparations for the World Cup and during the tournament itself. A prototype was delivered in March.

The image shown here is taken from the software running analytics on the November warm-up game against Italy. The white lines across the German backline and forwards show the operator in this case is studying playing formations and the relative position of players in these units.

In practice games, players can wear wireless sensors from partner company Amisco to relay geospatial and performance data but in real matches those digital tags are not permitted for safety reasons and because coaches are barred from using in-game technological aids.

According to SAP head of head of discrete manufacturing industries Nils Herzberg, the technology is not just for coaches. It can also be used by players to analyse their own performances.

"It is more for training but also for post mortems. Well, in the case of Germany there wasn't one. Everyone else could have done with one," Herzberg said.

The technology could also be used one day in other fields, such as in military exercises, for example.

"You could actually use it for the training of soldiers for special missions, if you want to make sure certain instructions and behaviours are followed," Herzberg said.

Image: SAP


Toby Wolpe is a senior reporter at TechRepublic in London. He started in technology journalism when the Apple II was state of the art.


It is an interesting article except calling this analysis "big data". It's a buzzword, and we need to stop adding it to every headline just to get more readers. The bigger problem is that creates confusion about what big data really is and where it should be used - more importantly, where it should not.

This article is about simple statistical analysis, which has been done for many years before "big data". The information captured does not meet the required 3 V's (velocity, volume and variety) to make it a 'Big Data" application. At least it is not explained in the article.


Another good example of fine use of big data. Data evaluation and stewardship has found such innovative uses across the board that it's just a matter of creative thinking and another potential service sector opens up. That being said, given how live matches are debarred from using technology, the game remains essentially human (and thankfully so). You can apply technology to determine validity of a decision, but it'd be a sad, sad day if activities of recreation, no matter how much they cloak themselves in professionalism and national zealousness, become method-born owing to data feeds over-ruling the instincts. Besides, there'd always be some natural talent in every era to eff-up the SAP db full of predictive analysis.