From strategy to execution, organizations navigate their respective markets carefully as they compete for market share and revenue. Boat racing faces similar challenges for executing against strategy as I learned during a development project for the 2009 SAP 505 World Championships. For this race, I assisted with the development of a race strategy/execution dashboard that couples business intelligence dashboard technology with sailing technology and domain knowledge. The resulting collaborative effort led to the development of an innovative dashboard.
This Xcelsius dashboard features two modes: strategy and race (execution). Strategic planning requires cultivation of information from many different sources. While data retrieval presents unique challenges, mashing it together in one visual compilation is another. For this particular dashboard, vendors and domain experts collaborated to produce powerful results in an extremely short period of time.
To plan either business or race strategy, you need to predict conditions and then plot a course of action. Based on date/time inputs and wind prediction inputs, the dashboard retrieves data from Local Knowledge software to plot ocean currents (yellow lines). The strength and direction of the current is visualized in a visual grid within the Google Map. Upwind laylines (red dots) are controlled by current, wind, and a profile based on the 505 boats. Local Knowledge software does all of the heavy lifting and returns laylines and currents through a custom web service.
Monitoring execution is the second challenge not easily achieved as conditions change. While the strategy tab relies on user input for wind conditions and a starting point, which ultimately affects the course itself, the race tab presents real-time views of this information . Real time GPS locations of all boats and marks (marks shown as red pins) are provided via Trac-Trac. On the fly, the dashboard retrieves laylines and routes based on real time information including wind conditions. Trac-Trac also provides additional information for each boat including boat direction and position.
All of this information is fed through Xcelsius into Centigon Solutions GMaps Plugin, which was extended to meet the challenges of this project.
A public facing version of this dashboard is available for you to viewing at: http://explorer.sap.com/505/ and during the event, will include real-time commentary feed by renowned sailing expert Kimball Livingston.