Analytics & the art of the Puzzle!

The problem with analytics is that sometimes it becomes an ivory tower! But journalism is showing some wonderful examples of how analytics & visualization can connect economics & everyday life in interesting ways.

I continue to believe that this trend of “Information journalists” is what we must bring into the analytics practice in the corporate world. Make data interesting & actionable & you will see adoption go up like crazy!

Sometime back David Leonhardt, an economics writer for The New York Times, created an “interactive puzzle” that enabled readers to create a solution for reducing the federal deficit by $1.3 trillion (or thereabouts) in 2030. A variety of options involving either spending cuts or tax increases were offered, along with the size of the reduction associated with each option. Visitors to the puzzle simply selected various options until they achieved the targeted reduction.

Nearly seven thousand Twitter users completed the puzzle, and Leonhardt has summarized the choices.

The starting point for their calculation is work done by Alan Auerbach and William Gale, two economists who are experts on the federal budget. Mr. Auerbach and Mr. Gale have written two recent papers that review what they call “the dismal prospects for the federal budget.”

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/13/weekinreview/deficits-graphic.html

Now imagine how interesting it could get if a company decided to use analytics in an interesting way to set up a Budget planning exercise within the company. And then leverage the techniques in user-friendly ways to get output that business users can play around with! It could be a powerful way to embed Analytics in the Business Planning cycle.

Again this needs Analytics to be embedded into the planning cycle of the company & only having an Analytics department is not sufficient.

The important point here is that it is the intersection of technology, creative & analytics that gets us to move ahead!