Watching the start of the new Formula 1 season the other week, it struck me how much data technology was at the drivers’ fingertips. Tyre tread, fuel consumption, weather patterns, braking efficiency, the lunch menu… Okay, but you get the point.
Long gone are the days I used to tune in on my dad’s old black and white TV (equipped with obligatory wire coat hanger and bulldog clip).
No smartphones, no internet and well, some questionable outfits (thanks mum…). A time when data collection meant some guy with glasses and a side-shed writing notes on a clipboard.
Very little data could be gathered and analysed during the race, I mean they would refuel and change tyres but generally the big changes were made between races. Data was slow, it took time to process and the car set-up was changed during the two week break between races.
Today there are more than 100 analysts and engineers using technology to assess data in real time, even if the race is 5000 miles away from where they are based. Changes can now be implemented during the race – tweaks are made to improve the efficiency of the car before the very next corner! No longer is there a two-week lag to improve the service.
This superfast technology improves the performance of the car, and therefore the driver, and can be crucial to the outcome of a race. It can mean the difference between failure and success.
Likewise, it improves the experience of the viewer (ie me, the customer). Now when I watch F1, I can see lap times for competing drivers, I know how many laps a driver has left before he needs to change tyres, and where on the track it might rain (and where it might not!). I enjoy a more in-depth experience with more information available to me and it increases the excitement of the race (e.g. when a driver decides to continue beyond his scheduled pit stop and I’m on the edge of my seat wondering whether he’s going to make it around another lap!).
Data can transform our industries for the better, provided we capture and analyse it. It can make us smarter and more responsive to our employees and customers. Ultimately, the transparency of data creates a much better experience for everyone involved. Otherwise we might as well be sitting watching F1 on an old black and white TV complete with wire coat hanger and bulldog clip…