The Los Angeles Dodgers brought its scouting process into the 21st century by embracing a data-driven approach. The Digital Trading Room was a one-of-a-kind digital hub for the team’s front office and provided the ultimate insider’s experience for baseball. It was built around a digital system that combined a customized desktop application, console controller, and a massive physical display system with real-time access to the latest data from internal and external sources on performance statistics, scouting, salary, and health data.
Objective and Context:
The Digital Trading Room was developed to capitalize on the wealth of information available about baseball and to create an efficient process for scouting. The design of the room was based on the insight that if the Dodgers had access to the latest data, the front office could work together to execute the right player transactions for the team. By creating a mobile platform that drove a physical trading room experience, the team could redefine how it identified its core asset: the players.
Users with rudimentary experience with web platforms were targeted, spanning a wide age range.
The Dodgers’ agency R/GA developed its strategy through direct consultation with the team, learning the process of identifying, validating, and executing player trades. Through this process, data sources were identified, the accessibility limitations of each data set were assessed, and potential obstacles were eliminated.
Overall Campaign Execution:
The Digital Trading Room, launched in July 2014 in preparation for the Major League Baseball trading deadline, was developed to be a business intelligence tool for the baseball operations department of the Dodgers. It was built in close collaboration with the front office and the scouts from the ball club for use throughout the season. It provided the ultimate “inside baseball” experience: a one-of-a-kind digital hub for the team’s front office. Conceived through extensive consulting with the Dodgers’ Baseball Operations team, the digital system combined a customized desktop application, console controller, and massive physical display system with real-time access to the latest data from internal and external sources on performance statistics, scouting, salary, and health data. It allowed the Dodgers to plan, project, and simulate critical scenarios for the team’s roster.
A physical environment was also created where the baseball operations team could work. Creating this room required collaboration from visual and user experience designers, technologists, hardware engineers, and the Dodgers’ architecture and construction team. A three-part connected system included a desktop experience for conducting research, a 17-screen interactive display, and a tablet controller that linked the two together. The result was accessible, real-time, and interactive player insights that had previously taken days to plot out using Excel.
The entire effort was conceived and executed as a cross-platform experience. The system bridged known gaps in the data sources for the Dodgers, from its internal scouting information to its external source of comprehensive player statistics. Engineers and developers created a method to retrieve the data and display it within the interface. Information and visual designers created data visualizations that served the team’s need for simple, legible results to complex queries. The solution was to use the system’s large canvas to render large amounts of data clearly on a single screen and use the tablet to navigate between different data sets.
The tablet controller was an essential piece of the Digital Trading Room platform because it provided an intuitive, novel way to control the 17-screen interactive display. The app allowed the Dodgers to navigate players as easily as playing a song on iTunes. It did all the work by retrieving the data locally, and then pushing relevant information to a web browser displayed on the screens in the Trading Room.
The Digital Trading room offers an example of how a data-driven approach can help brands work more efficiently using up-to-the-minute information. Having a physical space dedicated to a digital platform will allow marketers to review and react to results in real-time.
In the month preceding Major League Baseball’s trade deadline of July 31, 2014, the front office kicked off research using the desktop experience with individual analysts identifying prospective player trades. In the final week, the analysts presented their scenarios and used the tablet web app to focus the debate on each potential transaction. On the day of the deadline, as the data flowed in, the entire front office congregated in the room to assess the opportunities in real time. For the first time, the team was able to access and reference its internal proprietary scouting, medical, and financial information in the context of the latest performance statistics. The team used the research and visual system to model and project how individual player transactions would affect the team’s performance and bottom line.
As the deadline approached, the team arrived at the conclusion that it wouldn’t acquire any new players. The system reinforced that sometimes the best trade is no trade at all. The results can be seen in the Dodgers’ win of the National League’s West Division and the potential dollars saved by avoiding an unnecessary trade.