January 6, 2009 - 16:24, by Dostalek, Kevin
While the trends of last year in the Corporate Portal and Enterprise Content Management areas continue, many are predicting that Business Intelligence will be 2009's hot business system push. This makes sense, especially in these tough economic times as companies are finding it even more important to make good decisions (because you may not get as many chances). Certainly my company
is seeing an upswing in BI related projects and with many of the new toolsets available today, these projects are finally within the financial reach of small and medium sized businesses.
However, the main problem that we often run into is that a BI solution is always limited by the quality of data that is behind it, and many of these mid-sized companies just don't have the data infrastructure to produce what they need without spending a lot of money on that first. In these companies much of the business insight is still locked within their employee's heads, or at least require their expert interpretations to make reasonable decisions based upon them. That's well and good for the data analysts, but in this web 2.0/enterprise 2.0 world we live in, we want to engage ALL possible intellectual capital to solve our problems.
I just want to remind everyone that there is indeed a way of tapping into this immense goldmine of crowd wisdom by using an Enterprise Prediction Market. These are by no means new, but as with the afore-mentioned technologies it's only been in the last couple years that they have become relatively inexpensive enough for the small-medium sized businesses. This is a great way of producing real crowd-sourced insight into business intelligence for decision making. It also has a great side effect of engaging your employees (or extended-enterprise, or customers) and giving them a voice (and maybe even having a little fun!)
The way they work is simple. You present a "market" or "stock" (or in some cases a "bet") and let your user group openly trade (buy/sell) these based on their expert knowledge and strategic intuition (more on SI in a future post). The market prices rise and fall based on the laws of supply and demand which allow you to develop an insight picture based on a diverse group of opinions. There have been many studies done that show crowds almost always produce more accurate predictions that individuals or small groups. The chart below shows just how close to perfect one particular prediction market did when looking across the board at all "markets" (questions) they had posed.
The main reason I'm so high on prediction markets right now is I see them providing the following benefits:
They leverage what you already have (intellectual capital) - no data scrubbing required :)
They are an entre into more sophisticated employee engagement systems such as idea markets. These can be difficult to implement if your culture is not geared up for them, but predication markets give the employee base and the decision makers a taste of the participation culture, while still maintaining some control.
I believe gaming and game theory is the next HUGE wave in business, and this type of system certainly has that flavor as well.
So where to start? Well, if you want a jump off point, there is a great post (and in fact an entire blog) that I recommend: A (long) review of prediction market software. If you just want to jump in and see one of these in action I highly recommend taking a look at Inkling. I really like Inkling because they have done a great job at making the whole "trading" thing much simpler (by using plain English instead of stock market terms, using a Market Maker so you don't have to worry about volume, and having a very slick streamlined interface). You can participate in a market almost immediately from their site for free (or create your own pilot market, free for 45 days).