BI provides hockey insight


Most Toronto hockey fans are aware by now that the Maple Leafs didn’t make the playoffs, but Peter Azzarello can tell you a lot more about why they missed their goal.

The senior software engineer at Information Builders Inc.’s Toronto office is one of the brains behind an Active Report generated through its WebFocus platform that treats NHL statistics like business intelligence data. The report, which is available online, includes goals, assists, points, penalty minutes, short-handed goals and power-play markers. It can also cross-reference players’ salary and nationality data.

“I was getting into a lot of hockey pools, maybe because I’m a Leafs fan,” Azzarello said. “This is just an easier way to look at that information.”

Normally, IBI customers like the Royal Bank use WebFocus to process complex financial data about their customer transactions, but IBI has been working to expand the scope of who would use business intelligence tools. The company originally announced last year, for example, its intention to integrate its iWay integration and adapter software with the Google Search Appliance. It has also promised more WebFocus search logic capabilities which will allow users to extract business intelligence from messages and transactional data.

Dan Carotenuto, technical director of corporate marketing at IBI, said the NHL Active Report is intended to showcase the company’s technology to a wider set of users. The company has already offered similar reports for NFL fans during the Super Bowl, he said.

“I’ve been seeing that you can roll your own dashboard,” he said, referring to the console-style view of information that BI users sometimes set up. “Our message this year is ‘no barriers’ — this is software that lets you succeed in your analysis.”

Azzarello said early feedback from his friends has been positive, although it hasn’t necessarily converted them into BI experts.

“They don’t really care about the technology in the background. It’s enabled in the browser so that they can do the analysis,” he said. “It gives them the functionality without having to understand the functionality, basically. There’s no other tool, no plug-in off the Internet they need to download.”

IBI has quietly marketed the Active Report to customers and encouraged them to find the “real MVP” based on goals scored versus what they make.

“It’s pretty funny — you can see a lot of players out there making a lot of money but not really producing. You can find them a lot more quickly using this type of approach,” Carotenuto said.

Maple Leaf captain Mats Sundin could be one such player, according to Azzarello.

“With his poor performance overall relative to other teams, it’s hard to justify his price tag. The statistics just don’t bear it out,” he said. “Visualizing these numbers makes it graphic.”

Any other Leafs analysis? “Beyond the fact that I’m still crying, no.”

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