Trend-spotter-spotters and the next step of competitive data science in business
I think the near term future will be characterized by…
* Overwhelming media & tons of choices
* On-demand economy
* Automation, AI, and personalization
* Post-scarcity (effectively, for some), price wars, and tiny profit margins
In these circumstances, the value of a source of future knowledge will grow. So the best data will be data that points toward a source of data in the future.
In fact, as the future gets ever-closer to the present because of accelerating change, foreknowledge of the future will be valued like fuel that’s necessary to get there.
Today, big data is largely focused on personalized targeting of future buyers of products. Based on correlations and past behavior, that’s a finite set of data and seems like it would have diminishing returns.
I think the focus of data science in the future will be less about slicing a prospective customer up a thousand ways and more about foresight into what emerging things more prospective customers will be interested in across months and years into the future.
Analogy: You know how all the fast food restaurants are now competing to be the healthiest, the most ecological and the most comfortable? In the future, they’ll compete to identify those forthcoming trends as early as possible and they’ll compete to find the best experts on identifying those trends as early as possible.
2 yrs from now, I think companies will seek the best independent minds for advice on fast-moving markets, like today they seek advocates to sing the praises of their brand on the social web.
Today’s equivalent influencers would be Chetan Sharma or Kirk Borne – master synthesizers.
As the accelerating pace of tech and cultural change collapses the future into the present, businesses will compete over knowing now what they will compete in directly later. They’ll compete in searching for the best algorithms and the best thinkers with foresight.