THE BLOG

Analysing in the Fast Lane

31/07/2013 14:11 BST | Updated 29/09/2013 10:12 BST
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Everyone knows that Formula 1 is as fast-paced as it gets, with every car on the grid capable of going from 0 to 124 mph (200km/h) in about four seconds and averaging at a speed of 225mph. But things don't just need to move quickly on the track for a Formula 1 team to be a success. Behind the scenes engineers and mechanics need to know exactly what they are doing - and make any fixes as quickly as possible, especially in the high-pressured situation of the pit stop, where every single second counts. When you bear in mind that each team has several cars on the track, this is no mean feat.

But how is this relevant to businesses? Well, just as an organisation needs to keep track of exactly what's going on throughout the company via CRM and ERP systems or in its industry by trend-watching, Formula 1 teams need to keep up to date with everything that's going on around them. Not only do they have to understand the condition of their cars while the race is going on but, in order to operate as effectively as possible in the pit, they need to have information on previous races and pit stops, so they can act as efficiently as possible, taking on board what has happened in the past. On top of this, they have to keep track of their competitors - not just their final position, but detail such as how much slower or faster they were.

People don't often think of the similarities with the business world when they think of Formula 1, and even less so do they think of big data. And yet, the three are actually very closely linked, with correct use of big data playing just as big a part in the success of a team as it can to the success of a business. As technology has developed, Formula 1 teams have been able to add telemetry to their cars that can record a host of data, from qualification times through to lap times, pit stop information and even cornering information.

Just as a business would make use of this information to see where they could improve their operations, or even to be quicker to market, Formula 1 teams and their drivers are able to digest the information to fully understand their cars and how they can get better lap times from it. With the data from the telemetry available in real-time, this information can even be harnessed as the race is going on, so the driver can be advised on the smallest of detail, whether it's how to have taken a corner better or if there's a particular part of the lap they are repeatedly losing time on. Similarly, in a business, HR departments can see in real-time in which situations staff are most valuable. In retail, this especially comes to force as staff can be reallocated between different branches to meet levels of customer demand.

For the engineering team in Formula 1, access to this data in real-time is invaluable when it comes to pit stop situations. To know exactly what is wrong with the car before it pulls in means they can be prepared to make a quick fix as soon as possible - saving precious seconds so the car can get back on to the track when it needs to. For a business, this is also imperative. When it comes to beating competitors and staying ahead of the market, any organisation needs to know exactly what is happening in real-time, so they can not only respond to customers faster, but ensure they are reacting to market changes as they happen.

Speed is clearly of the essence, both in the business world and on the race track. So next time you're watching Lewis Hamilton speed around the circuit, remember that as much data analysis has gone into his drive as you are using to make a success of your business.

While we don't have the levels of data the telemetry systems can give drivers before the race, at QlikTech, we've created an app including data from all past Formula 1 races, so you can see for yourself which drivers and teams are most successful on the track and make your own deductions as to who you think will win this season.