For the past 17 years, Scout7 has been one of the key players in a major revolution that has changed the face of scouting, recruitment and performance analysis in professional football.
When we first started working in the game back in 2001, we had a vision of how the internet could revolutionise the management of scouting practices. It was a time when scouting information was still being managed using office filing cabinets, with reports being sent in the post.
Given how people’s day-to-day use of technology was changing, coupled with the substantial increase in overseas player recruitment, offline management was never going to have long-term sustainability. So we started to develop technologies which digitalised the global scouting processes for every club, at all levels of the pro game.
A Scout7 player record from 2004
Fast-forward to the present day and you will find that most of the core fundamentals of recruitment still remain the same, however the industry landscape has changed considerably. From a club’s perspective there are more people, with different areas of expertise, involved in the recruitment process and there is more video, player and match data available to analyse than ever before.
One of our ongoing challenges has been to develop our platforms so they can cater for the changing needs of clubs and associations. With data science and analytics now playing a key role in many club’s player identification processes, by the summer of 2017 it was becoming increasingly obvious to us that we needed to find a strong data partner to help us grow and prosper.
As a result, towards the end of last year we made the decision to join forces with OptaPro, with their parent company, Perform, acquiring Scout7.
Since the acquisition, we have been taking strides to integrate traditional scouting practices with advanced analytics, with the objective of making the ISF platform a central hub where clubs can manage all their processes holistically.
We have recently integrated all OptaPro platforms, so club staff can use the ISF to access their various tools via a single login. We have also introduced new competition and fixture pages too, which incorporate Opta data.
The new ISF fixture page, incorporating Opta data
These are the first of many developments we have in the pipeline as part of a bold vision to drive innovation, not only in football but across a number of different team sports.
However for Scout7, this summer will signal an end of an era because from the start 2018/19, all of our products and services will be delivered under the OptaPro name, as we look towards delivering on our vision for the future.
What to expect from the new OptaPro
For those clubs, scouts and analysts who have worked with Scout7 over a long-term period, I must stress that this development is only going to bring huge benefits to your service.
From a personnel perspective, all Scout7 staff are moving across to join the OptaPro team. This means that you will retain contact with all the people you have dealt with previously, from an account management and support perspective.
From a leadership perspective, I will be continuing to play a key role in a restructured senior management team, as will Scout7’s former Operations Director Bradford Griffiths. This means that OptaPro will retain all of Scout7’s industry knowledge and expertise.
Together with the Head of OptaPro, Ben Mackriell, we want to be pioneers in data and technology across various sports, which enhance performance. This is something which I have been passionate about since the early days of Scout7.
Key objectives for the future
We are committed to working exclusively with professional clubs, leagues and football associations.
As part of that, we will be taking a proactive, consultancy driven approach to looking after all 300 OptaPro clients around the world. We want our innovations to be a genuine collaboration between us and the people using our systems.
We will very shortly be expanding into rugby and cricket too, launching advanced interrogation tools for Opta data.
Ultimately, we want the ISF to be a club-wide solution, so looking long-term we have plans for introducing new features relevant to squad management, at all levels of a club. To do this we intend to work with some of OptaPro’s existing partners, working in other areas of performance data collection and player administration, which can be integrated into ISF.
Combining data and scouting approaches
In many ways, we are looking to build on the same model we started back in 2001 for centralising player data online. All that has changed is that data is more extensive and comes from a number of different sources.
The challenge is identifying the data which is most relevant to strengthening a team’s squad and improving performance game-by-game. This is a challenge which is far from straightforward, as the individual requirements are different for every team.
Alongside this, the single most important resource a club possesses for informing decision-making is its people: the analysts who interpret data and the scouts on the ground who assess players seven days a week.
All our initiatives in the coming years will be about supporting clubs with managing their joined-up approach to scouting and analysis, combining the subjective and objective elements of decision making. This will be done through bringing together various sources of information, which can be interrogated both in-game and post-match, so that decision makers can identify relevant information instantly.
Of course technology will evolve and club processes will continue to mature, but I am tremendously excited by the opportunities we have to further optimise both the qualitative and quantitative approaches to scouting and analysis.
So whilst we are saying goodbye to Scout7, we are saying hello to a new OptaPro, and we look forward to sharing that journey with you….