What can businesses learn about technology from a cyclist?

By | 4 minute read | June 16, 2016

Internet of Dave

Did you like cycling as a child?

Perhaps as you grew older, your bicycle become a primary source of transportation—that is, until you got your driver’s license and access to a car! For people in many parts of the world the bicycle remains a primary mode of transportation for getting to work, taking kids to daycare, dating, taking the dog to the vet and picking up dry cleaning and groceries. I have spent vacation time in the Netherlands and Belgium and can tell you firsthand that bicycles are used instead of cars for all of these chores and more, regardless of the weather or time of day. This trend is also growing in North America too, as I’ve witnessed in Toronto, Canada, my hometown.

Some of us use our bicycles only when we have a warm summer weekend to get out for a bit of exercise. But another class of cyclists are serious athletes or ultracyclists. You’ve probably heard of the grueling Tour de France. Yet you may be surprised to hear about a cycling race that is far more challenging than the Tour de France!

Enduring a tremendous challenge

Last year I became acquainted with ultracyclist Dave Haase and an event called the Race Across America, which eclipses the mileage ridden in the Grand Tours of Cycling, including the Tour de France. IBM promoted Dave’s fifth attempt at winning this race by outfitting him with state-of-the-art gadgets that provided critical information to his support staff that was used to fine-tune his race strategy. IBM called this effort the “Internet of Dave.”

Hopefully, the foregoing is filling your head with questions such as the following:

  • What is the Race Across America, and what makes it tougher than other races? • What motivates an athlete to participate in such a sport?
  • How did Dave prepare for the race?
  • What were these “state-of-the-art gadgets” that were used and what information did they provide to Dave’s crew?
  • What food does a racer consume during such a challenging feat of endurance?
  • What are the specific strategies for each type of terrain—deserts, mountain ranges and plains? • Which element, heat or wind, is more fierce than the other during a race?
  • How much rest did Dave get each day?
  • Did Dave win the race?

Watch the replay of a Google Hangout featuring Dave to learn the answers to these questions and others you may be curious about. For the complete story, watch all the videos and read the blogs created to bring interest to the IBM effort of using analytics to arm Dave with the information he needed to race his best race.

Begin with a game plan to go the distance with IBM Analytics

Like any endeavor, successful execution begins with a plan, thoughtful preparation and a strategy that adapts to changing circumstances. IBM teamed up with Dave to provide the insight and foresight he and his crew need to prepare for and execute his perfect race. Dave described his grueling race schedule this way: “The whole race is 3,000 miles long. I’m racing pretty much nonstop. So the game plan is to race 30 hours without any sleep, stop for two hours and sleep, and then continue at the same pace.”

Racing the perfect race with IBM Analytics

Dave wasn’t especially interested in technology when he first began racing, but to improve his performance, he realized that he needed to collect data and analyze it in order to figure out what he should change. He began using a bike computer, then a heart rate monitor and power meter, then a Garmin device to measure power output and heartrate. Technology gives him an advantage in knowing how to prevent injury, maintain peak power, and when to rest. Analytics is now used to enhance Dave’s personal judgement.

Translating Dave Haase’s race analytics to the business world

Why does IBM care about cycling races? Dave’s story brings a human face to the benefits that can be gained when insight and foresight are available to make the critical decisions necessary at precise moments for maximum impact. And his story draws an appropriate analogy to what may be required to help your business win within its own competitive landscape. All professions can be improved by analytics. Intuition still plays an important part, but it can be improved by borrowing from the experiences of our best decision makers. Just as analytics improved Dave’s performance as an ultracyclist trying to win a race, businesses and individual job roles can be transformed to get the targeting insight to make businesses successful. Analytics is going from large businesses down to individuals.

Keep track of Dave during the race. And after the race, you can meet Dave in person at Shape, the AT&T Tech Expo which will be held Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16 in AT&T Park in San Francisco. Register now. (Kids 17 and under get in free!)