The same way some businesses are gathering collective intelligence from product usage patterns or social media chatter, teams like Michigan State University basketball or Superbowl champ Baltimore Ravens are already tweaking their game plans and delivering individual instructions to their players to gain a competitive edge.

Before MSU pummeled highly ranked state-rival University of Michigan last week, scouting staff was preparing a database of U-M ball screen plays. Compiling the stats and video footage is not out of the ordinary for MSU but delivering customized clips for individual players via iPads is. With this new advantage players can take more ownership of making adjustments based on their individual match-ups and contribute to Coaching directions in practice.

The name of the app is GamePlan from Global Apptitude and more NCAA and NFL teams are taking advantage of it every day.

The fact that the technology exists now to keep up with demands responsive enough to satisfy the needs of high caliber sports teams makes a statement and I’m hoping it will help raise the awareness of such technologies. For years now credit card companies have been predicting fradulent charges and big box stores have been  strategically placing gift cards and gum near the checkout at eye level based on trends in analytics behavior and yet most businesses today still don’t realize these technologies and practices are in their reach. If a Business Intelligence manager can use his/her favorite sports team (like MSU) as a reference to sell the concept internally, we’ll all be better off.

I’m very interested to see where business intelligence practices take us as internal data-powered macro decisions are made on a regular basis. Like an individual ball player studying their one-on-one matchup, how long until we see sales reps equipped with a mobile device and their own external scouting report including the data I need to easily make a purchasing decision? Forrester is already showing that “24% of enterprises already use or are piloting mobile BI applications and a further 37% are considering mobile BI for near-term implementations.” Perhaps the GamePlan model is the inspiration the market needs to begin to adopt real information workplaces (IW) where business intelligence data moves out of spreadsheets and into “a seamless, contextual user experience that allows your information workers easy access to the information they need.”

Image attribution: dionhinchcliffe

I also wonder what LeBron James would say if I told him I could MapReduce his crossover? Would he invite me to his house to shoot some Hadoops?