Surprising Data Warehouse Lessons from a Scrabble Genius

Surprising Data Warehouse Lessons from a Scrabble Genius

 

Lessons in data warehousing and cloud data integration can come from unexpected places. Consider: the latest French-language Scrabble champion doesn’t speak French.

New Zealander Nigel Richards just won the international French World Scrabble® Championship without speaking the language at all, even using many obscure words that the average French speaker doesn’t know. The secret to his success seems to be twofold: his ability to memorize the full 368,000 words in the official authorized French list, known as the Officiel du Scrabble (ODS), along with his expertise in finding the best strategic placement on the game board.

Surprisingly, this achievement highlights a few lessons for any company wishing to become a data-driven enterprise and get ahead of their competitors.

It’s all about consistent, trusted data

Nigel Richards essentially turned his brain into a Data Warehouse. It contained all the approved words, a “single version of the truth” that he based his play on. This is no small accomplishment: typical memorization techniques, like the Memory Palace, aren’t adapted to this sort of task, where the word has no meaning for the mental athlete.

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Modern businesses face similar challenges. To become a true data-driven enterprise, you need a very solid data management strategy and infrastructure, so that your data is trusted and that the resulting actions are effective. This means extracting data from multiple sources (for instance Salesforce, Marketo, Netsuite, SAP, Excel as well as your different databases), then taking necessary steps to consolidate, cleanse, transform and load the data into your data warehouse. Unlike the ODS, your data isn’t a relatively frozen set. It needs to be kept up to date and synchronized frequently.

Getting the most out of your data

The next lesson is that you need to focus on key high-level patterns and metrics in order to act. Nigel Richards didn’t need to understand the words in order to play his tiles. He just analyzed the number of points each word would bring, how it would help his future moves, and how it would hinder his opponent’s options. In doing this, he was applying best practices learned throughout his experience as a Scrabble champion in other languages. The words may be different, but the patterns he would seek out are the same.

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Before you can produce your analytics and business insights, for instance bringing all your data into AWS Redshift and using Tableau Software or QlikView, or directly importing all data into the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, the foundation needs to be rock solid, bringing us back to data integration.

What this means for you

Mr. Richards single-handedly imported nearly 400,000 words in just nine weeks. I know many managers who would be happy to see that sort of timeline for their projects! Luckily, Cloud Data Integration solutions provide a new, agile approach to allow organizations to integrate your applications and data sources rapidly, without having to worry about provisioning hardware or administering the platform. The best tools provide out-of-the-box connectors to extract and load your data without needing to hand-code, as well as components to de-duplicate, validate, standardize and enrich for higher data quality.



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