For me, this Friday will be a third foray into the world of sports analytics at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. This year the conference returns to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center after making its way over to the Hynes Convention Center last year. Both are legitimate world class venues, and thus more than suitable locations for a bunch of pocket protector wearing stat geeks.
As far as conferences go, the Sloan Conference is well run. I suppose that should not be a surprise since it is organized by a top-tier MBA program. Still, it’s a thankless and difficult task which that team has done right for the last few years.
The General Conference Experience
I’ve heard numerous times of late about how “conference just aren’t my thing,” from a number of people. Despite my track record of recent attendance at this particular conference, I can actually fully understand this point of view. With that being said, this definitely depends on the particular conference in question and specifically the level of interest the attendee has in the minutia of the conference’s topics. Additionally – as I alluded to by starting this post off on the topic – the manner in which the conference is run makes all the difference in the world as well.
How To Make The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Worth Your Time (And Money)
First, do your homework. It’s an MIT conference – so yes there’s homework. Before attending you should know what panels you likely want to attend throughout the day (as there are multiple panels taking place at once). To determine what panels you wish to sit in on; read up on the panelists and the abstract summary of each panel.
Second, be sure to try to interact with new people. Even those of us from Boston – that aren’t always known for hospitality – tend to be friendly at the Sloan Conference.
As you can imagine, social media and social media analytics have been a topic that permeated multiple panels over the last two years (more so in 2011). There was a great LinkedIn group discussion leading up to this year’s conference. A group is getting together Thursday evening at STATS Bar & Grill to meet prior to Friday’s events.
Third, try to step outside your comfort zone. Sometimes this is more difficult than you might think. If you tend to be partial to a sport or a specific business function, stray from those familiar worlds when picking your running mates and panels to attend. For example, last year, a soccer-focused panel was one of the very best of the conference. Note being a “soccer guy” necessarily, I was thrilled to have sat in and learned something new.
More Content Throughout The Week
For the rest of the week leading up to the start of the conference I will post more MIT Sloan Sports Analytics inspired content.
If you are feeling “Lucky” visit the Lucky Nugget.