Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

4 Things I Learned About BI Strategy from Playing Scrabble


I enjoy a good game of Scrabble, whether with a friend or with a fellow enthusiast online. Recently in a really close game, I was able to clinch my victory by strategically placing an "x" to spell "xi," earning me a final 27 points. Though I'm no expert at Scrabble, I've picked up a few strategies that apply to the business intelligence world:

1) Planning matters.
Scrabble is all about planning and strategy. You may have a great word lined up on your rack but you can't just play it anywhere. You need to plan ahead, consider your opponent's next move and the remaining open spaces on the board. Similarly, your business needs to plan ahead and BI software facilitates that planning. Just like you lay out your Scrabble tiles over and over to plan for maximum word score, budgeting & planning software allows finance teams to perform monthly re-forecasting and rolling forecasts that help your business adjust to changing market conditions. The automation built into BI software makes it possible to be more forward-thinking since there's more time for analysis and less manual data entry and consolidation.

2) Analyze the changing environment.
So you've just made your move and now you have to refresh your rack with new letters. The board has changed and so have your options. In Scrabble, your playing environment constantly changes just like in the real world. How quickly can your business react to market changes? BI software like arcplan enables what-if, best case and worst case scenario planning, which are critical to an enterprise's long-term stability and growth. What about trend spotting? Maybe you notice your opponent tending to place 4-letter words, allowing you to somewhat anticipate his or her next move. Spotting and reacting to trends is crucial for businesses that want to compete. Do you have an analytic tool in place that allows you to visually spot patterns, analyze data on the fly for underlying causes, and make decisions that will move your company in the right direction? When businesses first get to know arcplan, the application we show them is a dashboard app that features an ad-hoc component. This app allows users to explore the patterns they see on their dashboard in greater detail. Business intelligence provides insight beyond just reporting; it's the analysis that helps you make sense of the data and get insight that enables better decisions.

3) Consider your returns.
Let's go back to my 27-point play with two letters. For those familiar with the game, you could have easily calculated that I placed the "x" at a triple word score space. Had I placed the same letter on a regular tiles, I would have only scored 9 points. In the same manner, you want to pursue BI projects that produce favorable returns on investment. We've previously posted a series on ROI here on our blog, which highlights the importance of profitable BI. In some cases, that means pushing for projects that will have the highest ROI first, so you'll be more likely to get future projects approved. In other cases, that means breaking up complex and costly projects into phases that will have provable ROI. Maximizing your return is a sound business (and Scrabble) strategy.

4) Collaboration is key.
I've seen words on the Scrabble board that I never knew existed until my opponent played them. Words like "faqir," "teeid," "qat" are now burned into my brain and I'm able to use them in my favor in future games. Likewise, there's so much you can learn from your colleagues, facilitated by BI software. Collaborative BI expands business intelligence to all information consumers in your company and is a new way for information to be shared across the organization. Gartner predicts that by 2013, 15% of BI deployments will combine BI, collaboration and social software into decision-making environments. Our own arcplan Engage makes structured and unstructured information from various data sources searchable, providing easy access to reports, dashboards, e-mails, videos, and more to even the most casual users for analysis, reporting, and decision-making. So one users' reports can benefit other uses, who are free to leave comments, ratings, and enhancement requests. In this way, BI software can enable collaboration in a different way than enterprise collaboration platforms like SharePoint do now. Collaborative BI is all about data and analysis sharing, not just knowledge management.

Do you see parallels between BI and other games? Leave us a comment and wish me luck in my next game of Scrabble!

Monique Morgan

About Monique Morgan

I'm the Marketing Project Manager at arcplan and work out of our Wayne, PA office. I'm originally from Jamaica but came to the US for college and I've been here ever since. I'm the voice behind a lot of arcplan's videos on YouTube - check them out here:
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