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'I am constantly amazed by the knowledge that consultants bring'

If you want to improve your performance as an athlete, then data – and insight into that data – can be highly valuable. David Salguero Kuiters wrote about this previously in his blog about IRIS. But how did this project actually come about? And what exactly is expected of our consultants? Dennis van Kooij of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences tells us all about it.

So, you don't work internally at Capgemini. Where exactly do you come from?

“That’s right. I work for the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS). We applied for the subsidy for this project together with the AUAS and the Vrije Universiteit, since this type of application can only be submitted to the government through a knowledge institution. The project therefore also falls under the Sport Innovator program of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. This initiative brings people in sports, science, business and the government together to develop innovations within the sports world.“

Yours is one of the two projects that were approved in the first round. What was your idea?

“There’s plenty of data in sports, but still not enough insight. We would like to carry out more analysis on the data, including approaches used in data science and prediction analyses. But this is only possible if the data is easily accessible. Much of the data that’s currently being collected is stored in a fragmented manner, which makes multidisciplinary data analysis difficult. Athletes often receive insufficient feedback on the data as well. For these reasons, we wanted to team up and create a tool that would allow all data to be organized and available in one place.”

How did you end up collaborating with Capgemini?

“Capgemini had previously been involved in a rugby project. We connected with each other during the showcase and talked to the people who had set up that project. The IRIS project seemed like another interesting initiative for them to get their hands on. Together with sports federations and knowledge centers, Capgemini even ended up helping to write the application for the subsidy.”

A number of our consultants are currently working on the IRIS project. How did they get involved with this project?

“At the beginning of the project we started collaborating with Capgemini’s Insights & Data department, and they assigned a project manager to help us. He just so happened to be a former baseball player for the Dutch national team, so he was also excited about the project right away. He then showed the support department that it was a really interesting project that employees could learn a lot from. As a result, colleagues who were not working on a project at the time ended up joining us.”

“We will have achieved our goal once everyone is using the tool: from the NOC*NSF and top-level sports to recreational teams with amateurs and new talents.”

What kind of people are working on IRIS?

“It really varies. Some people have a lot of experience and others don’t. That makes it a very dynamic group in which we can all learn a lot from each another. In addition, the project involves some front-end work, back-end development, a link to the cloud and now a link with data analytics, too. This allows everyone to contribute in their own way and pursue their personal learning goals as much as possible. That’s our intention, in any case. The result is a win-win scenario that benefits both the project and the employees. ”

What do you expect from our consultants?

“We work with a Java back-end and use the AWS cloud, among other things, so it’s useful if you already have knowledge of these kinds of topics, are familiar with them or would like to learn. But what we really expect is that you’ll be enthusiastic and eager to develop your skills. That’s the most important thing.”

People in the US are already doing a lot with data (e.g. in baseball). What makes IRIS really something new?

“It’s true that there are already various tools on the market, but they often cannot hold all of the data you want to store. That isn’t helpful for a coach or athlete, obviously. We therefore decided to approach things the other way around and talk to the sports federations first. We asked them what kind of data they needed and how they would like to use it. This allowed us to create a truly custom-made solution in which coaches and athletes can access everything directly, in one application with a single login. It’s also a Dutch tool, which means we no longer need to store any data abroad. That makes it GDPR-proof and ensures that we can quickly add new features as well.”

That sounds good and it seems like the frameworks are already firmly in place. Is there still room for our consultants to make their own contribution?

“Absolutely! There’s always room for that. The knowledge that the consultants bring never ceases to amaze me. It’s important that we benefit from their involvement in the project, of course. We always consider the new input that consultants contribute, and this has already improved the platform several times. But the consultants should really get something out of it as well, and they can ultimately be better prepared to serve their clients.”

Did you ever think Capgemini was a company that also works on these kinds of projects?

“No, I actually didn’t. People often have an image of Capgemini as a commercial company. You do get together with all the parties and put down everyone’s interests in writing, of course. But in the end, all of us want to help top-level sports. That’s why I'm here and that’s why Capgemini is on board, too.”

Does a project like IRIS sound like music to your ears? And are you curious to know about the possibilities for you at Capgemini? If so, then check out our current openings. If you would like to learn more about the IRIS project, readDavid Salguero Kuiters’ story here.