What is next-gen sports data?

After a few packed weeks of data-loving discussions with the experts from SXSW, Sloan, and Baseball Hackday the future of sports data remains very much an open question.

It may appear like the world of sports data is a cluttered market dominated by massive media companies. The reality couldn't be further from the truth. There is a huge need for data savvy companies and professionals to help the sports industry keep pace with emerging trends.

1) Player performance data is coming from wearables. The promise is that when players put on devices from companies like Zebra and Catapault there will be a massive amounts of new information to use in broadcasts, in team operations, and in entertainment (console games and apps).

2) Player performance data is coming from systems. Skeptics believe athletes and players associations will make it hard for wearables to gain widespread adoption. They believe most of this data will come from next generation cameras and radars in the venue. Companies like Sportvision, Hawk-eye, and SportVu (from STATS Inc.) Even skeptics can see this coming -- most NBA and MLB broadcasts now include some version of this motion detection.

3) Player performance data is coming from fans. As stadiums continue to add wi-fi, fans will increasingly become the source of sports data. Companies like Burst and apps that keep score will provide new sources of highlights and stats. Even fans watching from home and bars will generate new stats and data -- especially as popular sport venues like Dave & Busters and Buffalo Wild Wings make it easier for fans to participate online and social media platforms like Facebook Stadium and Snapchat enhance fan tools.

4) Player performance data coming from youth leagues. It used to be special when you could get a player's stats from the minor leagues or college. Now, we're seeing it's possible to track a player from the time they first lace up. Little League and other organizations will continue to standardize on data entry platforms. We'll see more coaches and parents generating this data as apps like GameChanger and Scorestream get broader adoption.

These trends are not new news to people in the sports industry. But these are new opportunities. And while it's easy to see how all this data leads to better fan engagement and next generation broadcast experiences, it's harder to see how the industry gets there without a plan for which data needs to be processed, which data needs to be stored, and where all of this happens on the network to scale efficiently.

Building this plan requires a big picture approach - merging business and technology experience. The past few weeks have highlighted the point solutions generating data. These conversations amplified the need for more data professionals who have the skills and experience to determine what is the most valuable next-gen sports data and anticipate how fans will consume it.