Amy Webb

The future of your busi­ness lies in what we leave be­hind.

Inc. (USA) - - CONTENTS -

Crowd­sourc­ing ver­sus crowdlearn­ing

In the past 24 hours, you’ve pas­sively shed more data than you can pos­si­bly imag­ine. Tiny frag­ments of the phys­i­cal and vir­tual you are strewn across all the places you’ve been: the unique key­stroke pat­terns en­tered as you’ve typed on your com­puter; the subtle in­to­na­tions in your recorded call to cus­tomer ser­vice; the biomat­ter you’ve left be­hind in cars and pub­lic bath­rooms. On their own, these bits of you aren’t par­tic­u­larly use­ful. But col­lected with every­one else’s data, then mined and re­fined with pow­er­ful ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence sys­tems, your pas­sive data can be used to tell the story of your future. By now, you’re no doubt fa­mil­iar with crowd­sourc­ing: ask­ing the pub­lic to con­trib­ute their ideas to help you solve prob­lems or to weigh in on de­ci­sions. But what if you could har­ness the wis­dom of the crowd with­out ask­ing them any ques­tions? What if you could hold an in­ten­sive fo­cus group— or an ex­haus­tive store walk-through—at scale, and with­out the usual cadre of cus­tomers and pricey in­flu­encers and ex­perts?

Re­searchers now know that mak­ing such ob­ser­va­tions from our pas­sive data can be much more in­for­ma­tive than in­ter­act­ing with us di­rectly. This is “crowdlearn­ing”: using the vast vol­umes of data we shed or are other­wise avail­able (our on­line ac­tiv­ity, our lo­ca­tions, the bio­data in state and fed­eral health records) to learn or un­der­stand some­thing new.

Crowdlearn­ing can be used to pre­dict what new prod­ucts will be needed in the mar­ket­place and what ser­vices cus­tomers will want—well be­fore they know them­selves. Com­pa­nies adept at un­der­stand­ing the in­ter­sec­tion of data and hu­man be­hav­ior can learn how much time their cus­tomers spend on var­i­ous web­sites, what trig­gers their de­ci­sions, and what me­dia they’ll con­sume within the con­text of life events such as mar­riage, mov­ing into a new home, or start­ing a fam­ily.

Tar­get in­fa­mously used crowdlearn­ing to in­fer when cer­tain cus­tomers were preg­nant—and then mar­keted baby-re­lated prod­ucts to them. While some cus­tomers bris­tled, many didn’t, and most never con­nected the dots. A world of op­por­tu­nity awaits com­pa­nies that ask their cus­tomers to opt in to shar­ing their data—imag­ine com­bin­ing a cus­tomer’s data with her lo­ca­tion and real-time weather in­for­ma­tion ahead of a big win­ter storm, and send­ing her a per­son­al­ized re­minder to stock up on her es­sen­tials: cof­fee, av­o­ca­dos, de-ic­ing salt.

Our pas­sive data can also be used to pre­dict what col­ors, shapes, and de­signs we’ll be at­tracted to in the future. IBM’s Wat­son used data from New York Fashion Week, along with hu­man at­tributes from hun­dreds of pho­tos—how models moved down run­ways in var­i­ous ap­parel, for ex­am­ple—to make ac­cu­rate cloth­ing-trend pre­dic­tions for the fall of 2017. The same sys­tem could be used to an­tic­i­pate new forms and styles for con­sumer tech­nol­ogy, kitchen­ware, and fur­ni­ture.

As more con­nected de­vices launch, en­trepreneurs will have ac­cess to even more data, al­low­ing them to fore­cast cus­tomer needs and de­sires fur­ther into the future. The CubeSats from Planet Labs—minia­ture satel­lites that can record and beam nearly real-time vis­ual data back down to Earth—will help busi­nesses get a sense of how peo­ple move around towns, cities, air­ports, and sea­ports. And con­nected work­out ap­parel from com­pa­nies like Supa and Sen­so­ria, along with “ear­able” in-ear de­vices from Bragi and smart pills like Abil­ify MyCite (data-col­lect­ing de­vices are em­bed­ded in both items), will con­tinue to en­ter the main­stream from the fringes, cre­at­ing more pas­sive data all the time.

In the next few years, you’ll start to see sim­ple dash­boards that will help you ex­tract mean­ing and learn from the crowd. You won’t need to be a re­search sci­en­tist to see your future in all that data. And what you can do with all that in­for­ma­tion— and how to build your busi­ness to meet the changes just over the hori­zon—is a pro­ject you can start think­ing about to­day.

Amy Webb is an au­thor and fu­tur­ist and the founder of the Future To­day In­sti­tute, a lead­ing fore­cast­ing and strat­egy firm. Fol­low her on Twit­ter: @amywebb

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.