Baseball is a game predicated on tradition. For well over one hundred years, the objective of the game – to hit the round ball with a cylindrical bat has not changed one bit. The game stayed the same and because of that, the way the game was evaluated stagnated. Batting averages, pitching wins, and home runs were not necessarily the most accurate statistics related to a player’s performance but after they had evolved to become the industry standards, no one questioned the validity in their place as the top metrics for evaluation.
Baseball stuck itself in the Dark Ages. Scouting for new talent was largely a hereditary business working from the top down. All of the information and tricks were passed down from generation to generation, and the new scouts rarely ever changed their strategy or developed their own methodology. The system, and the players that were evaluated and marked to be the best, became very hit or miss. The highest-drafted players were not necessarily the ones who would go on to be stars in the Major Leagues. So when the system becomes so broken that millions of dollars are being handed to untested teenagers who have yet to demonstrate that they will be contributors to the team in the Majors, there needs to be a change in the process.
Enter Billy Beane and his team: the Oakland Athletics. By focusing on stats that other teams significantly undervalued—like on-base percentage—the team shed all of their so-called superstars, cut their payroll to $41 million, among the lowest in baseball, yet still made the Playoffs. By exploiting the statistical shortcomings of the rest of the league, the Oakland A’s built themselves a Playoff-caliber team, while reducing their own financial
costs. Beane’s approach was a far cry from the big handouts the Yankees paid to any player who had had relative success. Beane’s Moneyball displayed itself in full effect during the season when the A’s set the record for most wins in a row by any Major League team. In light of their success, other teams built their scouting systems to push statistical analytics ahead of the eyeball test that had been the standard for scouting baseball players. There has been a standard established that the best teams operate on a higher level with a different system than the lesser teams.
Much like Moneyball, which optimized new software and a different approach to tackle a problem, the B2B market is shifting quickly online. Because Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” a shift in the way businesses are buying and selling on a global scale is long overdue…and it is finally here and poised to grow at >30% CAGR every year for the next five years.
There is a reason some companies rise above all the rest, and in the procurement space, 55% of ‘best in class’ companies are now using automated spend analysis to increase performance. When 50% of this group is using ePayables and 68% of them are using e-procurement, the shift to an automated, web-based service—which can push efficiency—becomes the logical solution to run these companies more efficiently. Increasing productivity and limiting missteps was the Oakland A’s keys to running a successful sporting business, and the shift to web-based B2B solutions for companies has helped organize the entire invoice processing system, and in turn has created many more successful businesses.