by Peter B. Nichol

The art and science of digital crystal ball predictions

Mar 24, 2016
Emerging TechnologyHealth and Fitness SoftwareInnovation

Technology predictability is an art mastered by great innovative leaders. The ability to discover authentic value rests within the predictor.

Wheels on a horse-drawn carriage was a horrible idea until it wasn’t. Hoverboards were a fantastic idea until they weren’t. There is a nondescript quality held by leaders who can predict the adoption of visionary and futuristic technologies.

The crystal ball tech predictions

New technology is spawning every day. CIO’s are under constant pressure to evaluate capabilities, explore new products, redesign existing processes, and formulate useful applications that are cost-effective and add value safety. Technology is forever evolving and keeping pace with the sprint of ultra-efficient solar, nanopore DNA sequencing, crowdfunding, 3D transistors, augmented reality, and quantified-self is extremely time consuming.

Technology executives are curious. CIOs know that while even a mainstream concept such as artificial intelligence (AI), appealingly straightforward, could impact business today with recommendation engines and tomorrow by creating new products, unimaginable today.

The perception of value. Value is a fascinating concept. The same principles to evaluate of technology can be found in the principles of assessing the value of art. In May 1837, a painting by John Constable’s “Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows” sold for only $6.87 in today’s dollars. The fine art industry estimated the work in 2013 valued it at $760 to $1,200, yet a passionate art enthusiast paid $5,212. Insane right? On Jan 29, 2015, this same painting sold for $5.2 million, almost 1,000 times the initially professional estimated value. During the week of May 11, 2015, the “Dschungel” (1967) sold for $27.13 million, three times the previous price for one of his works, according to Sotheby’s. “Riot” by Chris Wool sold for $29.93 million. The art industry estimated that this piece would sell for a mere $12 million to $18 million.

Perceived value to enable wealth

In art, there are three steps to estimating the value of a piece: 1. Validation (size of artwork, date of artwork, condition, auction venue) 2. Appraisal (purpose, market analysis, statement of professional qualifications of the appraisers, provenance), and 3. Authentication (performed by an expert). In technology, we can also apply three steps for estimating the value of tech: 1. Culture (global, local, beliefs, values, and opinions), 2. Shared economy (quantified-self, consumptive collaboration, ownership models), and 3. Network effect (network externality, social networks, product or service, wealth creation, the opportunity for demand-side economies of scale).

Microsoft Vista was supposed to be the flagship release of 2007. CIOs that adopted the platform likely experienced compatibility issues with older PCs, slower processing than on XP, and a host of other problems. iTunes Ping was a weak attempt to merge the Apple music store and social networks that didn’t last. Security challenges quickly inspired Apple to kill off Ping. Netbooks also ultimately failed. Who’s at fault? Manufacturers were only trying to provide a low-cost alternative to the laptop. Who could have predicted that Steve Jobs would launch the iPad in 2010? Predicting trends in technology and adoption of technology is an art. Evaluating technology can’t be done on a spreadsheet. Sure, the benefits and risks can be written down, but that won’t help. Predicting technology trends require executive leaders with “social-sight.” Social-sight is the unique ability to see trends before they become mainstream. Some leaders have this capability and other don’t. You know who they are. They think differently.

Supporting the next generation of value

Will sensors change your consumer’s daily routine by 2020? Will artificial intelligence change the modern office? Will blockchain change tomorrow’s healthcare? Inside your organization are technology artists. They see can predict trends before they go mainstream.  They have the unique ability to see value, where others find little. This value could originate from technologies, individuals, or even predictions of behavior.

Technology artists see the value of blockchain. Microsoft’s Azure blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) solution partnered with BitShares, BitPay, Eris Industries, and Factom. Digital Asset (blockchain technology developer) partnered with Accenture, Broadridge & PwC. BitGo partnered with HYPR, to integrate the HYPR-Secure biometric login with BitGo’s multi-signature platform. Technology artists can discover hidden value.

Do you remember when suggesting cloud hosted services was considered reckless as a CIO? It was reckless to the point when if your organization didn’t have a cloud strategy, even your board wondered about the organization’s ability to keep pace with technology and contain costs. Remember when bring-your-own-device (BYOD), was considered ridiculous. Many held that viewpoint until Blackberry was removed from just about every enterprise and replaced with Android and iPhones. 

Data driven decisions make sense – most of the time. What happens when there isn’t the data upon which to base decisions? When data doesn’t exist, technology artist must forecast predictive trends. We trust technology leaders to help provide the social-sight. Lean on technology artists who have the uncanny ability to predict trends. These trends could be the future revenue backbone of your company’s business.

The process of evaluating predictive technologies and the impact on society is an art, not science.