A Business Intelligence Project with Excellent Odds

Any CIO will tell you analytic tools can be a gamble. The difficulty of calculating a realistic return on a strategic business intelligence project means many BI projects can't win approval. But Moti Vyas, CIO of Viejas Enterprises, an Alpine, Calif., tribal casino and outlet mall, was able to show obvious business benefits to the Kumeyaay Indian tribal council when it budgeted $600,000 for a data visualization project using Compudigm International Ltd.'s seePOWER software.

Before the BI implementation, the Viejas Casino had a real-time data problem. Through trial and error -- and intuition -- house managers shuffled around more than 2,000 slot machines on the casino floor, betting where the most popular machines might draw in the most cash.

"We'd put in a new machine and we'd wait a month and say 'What's the total output?' If it wasn't doing well, we'd move it and wait another month,'' Vyas says. Now Vyas analyzes revenue daily based on a color-coded graphical overlay of the casino floor. Then he might swap out one-armed bandits or place a machine that collects hefty $10 bets in a zone the software designates as super-hot red. A friendly interface means it doesn't take a NASA astrophysicist (a title Vyas held in a previous life) to see how the casino's cash flow increases when decisions are made based on data.

"What once took two months to figure out now takes two days," Vyas says.

Problem solved.

This was first published in April 2005

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