BLOG | By Chief Executive Matt Everett
Knowing the industry as I do, I’m all too aware that some perceive financial benchmarking as potentially putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Why should I want to share information about my club which could be useful to others?
Indeed, the single biggest concern that we face in our conversations with Leagues and their clubs is that of the nature of the data we collect, and whether clubs will be willing to share that information.
This concern over sharing potentially sensitive data is something that I have experienced first hand in my commercial roles at clubs, and is of course something that is taken extremely seriously by everybody at ClubView.
The nature of what we do means that, by definition, some of the data points we collect in the platform would be commercially sensitive if other clubs were able to see the figures provided.
Delivering on our mission statement of creating the industry standard for real-time, independent financial benchmarking in sport relies on every one of our clients trusting us and our methodology and processes, and turning any perception of competitive disadvantage on it’s head.
We’ve used our industry and data knowledge and experience to take into careful consideration how we deal with potentially sensitive data points and I wanted to share a little about that methodology here.
Our data methodology can be summarised in 3 points:
- ClubView commits to not collecting data unless we have a clear and documented reason for doing so in our methodology.
- No sensitive data should be identifiable and/or shared between clubs and leagues.
- ClubView will operate with complete transparency in how it collects, processes and manages industry data.
In general, every time a data point is added to our data library, we analyse how that data can be used alongside other data points, and document what it will deliver when processed according to our methodology. All clubs and leagues understand which data points are used for which models and reports, and we think this is really important to demonstrate the clearly defined methodology and scope we have when collecting data.
Our data structure means that whilst all individual data feeds into the overall ClubView database, individual club data points are not shared but instead converted to metrics which can be used for non commercially sensitive comparison (such as rankings, ratios, growth rates). You can see some examples in the club to club section below.
In addition, we recognise that even within clubs there are areas of the product which should only be visible to certain users. Our reports and benchmarks are therefore assigned separate silos by our 5 benchmarking areas which can be restricted by user level. It is also possible to have users who can only enter data, not see the historic reports or other areas of the platform.
Data Sharing from Club to League
Our first consideration when scoping implementation of our platform with a new client is identifying “is this a data point which is already collected by the league?”
If it is, of course, we are not asking for new sensitive information, just for access to information already provided. Our platform can then either ingest the data from the league source, via integration or file import, or can become the point of data collection for the league.
If it is not, and a piece of data from our data library is not currently collected by the league, then the league would only see the rankings and non commercially sensitive metrics in their dashboard, not each individual club figure.
It’s also important to remember here that it is in every club’s interest for their league to perform well commercially – growth in the performance of the league overall will ultimately deliver more opportunities and revenues for clubs.
Data Sharing from Club to Club
Our second consideration, with each data field in our library, is to rank how commercially sensitive this data is if other clubs had access. Each data field is then scored:
1 – A score of 1 means this data point in its current format is considered highly sensitive and can be used to calculate benchmarks and rankings, but should under no circumstances be identifiable against the club. An example would be the revenue of the club individual sponsorship contracts.
2 – A score of 2 means this data point has been converted to a metric which is less commercially sensitive, such as a % or range – but will still be displayed in ways which are not traceable back to a specific club. An example would be Concourse Spend Per Head – this metric can be used to show absolute rankings against anonymised clubs, but not against a specific club as then total revenue could be calculated.
3 – A score of 3 means this data point is not considered commercially sensitive – usually because this data is available in the public domain such as attendance, social media following or ticket prices.
In all cases aside from data points scored 3, we ensure that metrics cannot be traced back to individual clubs, and if displaying rankings or ranges could result in clubs being readily identifiable, we will show the range based on a percentile, such as 90%, of the data – removing the highest and lowest values.
Remember, the data is used to provide accurate, relevant and real-time industry benchmarks to help all clubs – not score or compare clubs against other individual clubs.
The key point here, is that as with any business, the data is only sensitive IF it is visible where it shouldn’t be.
It is key to consider as well why these concerns exist. The concerns are valid when applied to existing benchmarking methods. As my previous blog showed, ClubView offers something new in that our independent benchmarking and the fact we offer the results and forecasts in real-time, means that unlike previously, clubs will be at a competitive disadvantage NOT to share this information in the context of the ClubView platform.
Everything that we do at ClubView in our approach to data underpins the fact that to be truly independent and have the trust of the industry, no commercially sensitive data should be identifiable within our platform where it is not already.
We operate with complete transparency, and under NDA or contract we are happy to share our entire data library, data methodology and security policy with any direct client (league) and their sub-clients (clubs).