A line-up of new and developing mobile technologies, coupled with the importance of innovation to create a winning team in both athletics and the business arena, was showcased at the opening of CCH Connections, the user conference for the tax and financial solutions provider, here in San Antonio, Texas.
“There is only so much you can control on an outcome of a decision,” Paul DePodesta, vice president of player development and scouting for the New York Mets, told roughly 1,300 attendees. “Sometimes we don’t know why we get attached to things. There are obstacles that get in the way of innovative thinking.”
DePodesta, who served with both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, also spent four years as assistant general manager of the Oakland As. Despite a small payroll, the As tied for the best winning percentage in baseball, utilizing a unique management system that flew in the face of traditional baseball player metrics.
Podesta and Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s strategies were later chronicled in the best-selling book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” which was recently released as a movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.
“Traditionally, psychological bias and too much focus on recent outcomes and ignoring the larger body of work were getting in the way,” he said “Even physical appearance [has a] bias. Players are supposed to be big, strong, agile, and we were making multi-million decisions on things like ‘he looks good in a uniform.’”
“We decided to start with data and then intuition second, and look outside baseball and get focused on process,” DePodesta added. “Everything we think we know about the game, we’re going to throw it out the window. We also had to have a continuous learning process. Billy demanded organizational consistency—from the A’s to its minor league system. There was an Oakland as process that was going to be clear internally and externally. And we had to have a realistic optimism.”
“Do you really think you can contend in a small market with low payroll?” Podesta recalled asking Beane about the team’s chances. “He said, ‘I will never use payroll as an excuse.’ It was like we were preparing a gourmet meal, but were only able to afford to shop at a 7-Eleven. Without that will to do something different, none of that would have happened.”
The opening-day session kicked off with a keynote from Kevin Robert, chief executive of Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting, who showcased a number of new mobile initiatives undertaken by the company, including enhancements to CCH Mobile, specifically a new application entitled CCH Tax News Highlights. Unveiled at the conference, the application allows users to track federal and state tax news on mobile devices such as an iPhone, iPad and Android.
“When you realize that the iPad was only launched in 2010 and has become so rapidly ingrained in what we do, it’s amazing,” said Robert. “Mobile technologies will be transformational for you and your business. We are moving quickly to help you meet your mobility needs.”
He added that by year-end, all customers on CCH’s IntelliConnect research platform will be able to access it on the iPad. Also under development are CCH Dashboard (which provides a mobile dashboard to launch into CCH products and publications), CCH Smart Charts (a touch screen technology system) and Quick Find (a tool to search specific databases and research, offering mobile “portlets” for instant access to IntelliConnect).
Robert also presented the CCH Lifetime Achievement Award to veteran tax expert, author and lecturer Sid Kess, with whom CCH has been working with since 1967.
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