business intelligence chess

How to Improve Your Business Intelligence with a Lesson from Chess

Don’t worry, you don’t have to learn the game of chess to excel at business intelligence. But let me share a quick story.

In 1997, Deep Blue, the chess-playing computer developed by IBM, beat Garry Kasparov, the reigning world chess champion. Many believed the question of who is smarter, humans or computers, had been answered.

I would argue the answer of who is smartest was answered eight years later.


business intelligence chess

Who's Smarter? Human or Machine?

In 2005, there was a freestyle chess tournament where chess Grandmasters paired up with supercomputers and competed against each other. What made the tournament so interesting? It was who won.

The winners were two amateur chess players using three ordinary computers.

How did these two Americans win? They weren’t as skilled in chess as the grandmasters and they didn’t have nearly as much computing power as the supercomputers.

The Power of Human-Computer Cooperation

They won because these two amateurs worked symbiotically with their computers. Shyam Sankar shared a TED talk where he explained the power of human-computer cooperation. I encourage you to watch his presentation in the video below.

The heart of his message is that when building computer solutions, we need to better design the human into the process. We need to remove the friction between man and machine. We need to improve the human-computer symbiosis.

Who’s smarter? Humans or computers?


If you want to know who is smartest, the answer is: humans + computers working effectively together.

Moral of the story?

Hiring the smartest people and buying the most powerful databases and analytical tools won’t ensure that your business intelligence solution is going to help your organization win any more than the grandmasters and supercomputers who didn’t win.

You need to reduce the friction between smart people and smart computers to deliver smart analytics that lead to smart actions. This is done by creating a business intelligence solution that designs your people into the process.

Want Your Business Intelligence to Be More Intelligent?

Would you like to learn more about how to design business intelligence solutions with processes that allow your people and your systems to work most effectively together? I invite you to reach out to me by phone at 541-701-9317 or email at

Leah Berry
quote - You need to reduce the friction between smart people and smart computers to deliver smart analytics that lead to smart actions.

About the Author

I help small business entrepreneurs transform their marketing to successfully convert and retain ideal customers so they can make more money and make a difference in the lives of those they serve. I look forward to helping you too.