Prediction for the 2020s: AI, Analytics, VR, and Gaming Make a Decision Simulator

T. Cuzzillo

Summary Bullets:

  • An intricate combination of data analytics, predictive analytics, data visualization, AI, virtual reality, and gaming could make a decision simulator.
  • The idea has evidently been taken seriously enough to see serious if brief development within several vendors.

Take data analytics, predictive analytics, data visualization, AI, virtual reality, and gaming. Toss. The result could be a mess, but if developers skilled in each of these capabilities perform the ‘toss’ – either in a lavishly equipped lab or a garage – that mix might result in the game of the decade for decision makers.

It’s an executive’s dream toy, and could also be the most important toy they ever had. At its best, it would be a decision simulator, like a flight simulator, for anyone from a chief executive to a dispatcher scheduling drivers for local delivery. Executives could game out strategy, try one path after another, and feel their way along as they fly the company into the ground only to press reset and try it again and again. Applications abound for people further down the chain as well; for example, distribution managers might game out a holiday season as they wrangle a supply chain.

Obviously, such a thing would take enormous resources to develop, or else abundant free time – the kind which is found in the tech world’s proverbial garage, where grad students build the next Tableau or Apple. The fantasy has entered the inner-most circles of some analytics company development teams. Queries to several established analytics vendors turned up two flickers of life, one dead and one alive: At one, there had been a project headed by an engineer before it was cancelled. The retired engineer declined to talk about it. A second vendor would only acknowledge interest among a few of its developers.

For now, by all signs, it’s just a fantasy. It’s something people dream of when staring too long at the horizon and wondering what’s coming. But this idea has excited an engineer here and there.

Parts of the recipe are optional. The virtual reality is optional if it can be substituted by imagination. Gaming is also optional for solo players who don’t need a score to judge their performance. Dedicated data analytics, predictive analytics, and data visualization modules are also optional for players with abundant human staff who can provide analytics in Excel. However, each missing piece slows the game, potentially to the point where it is overtaken by reality.

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