“I never predict anything, and I never will”. Paul Gascoigne.

For us, ‘Predicting’ brings together a range of future-focused approaches including trends analysis, behavioural economics, and opportunity modelling.

The power of these approaches is that they can inform future questions, challenges and decisions. They achieve this by moving away from a static, retrospective picture of the market towards a more dynamic one.

One application of predictive data that really excites The Forge team is Community Modeling. In tune with the Influencer analysis that forms part of our ‘Watch’ source area, this emergent technique predicts future behavior by analysing and identifying the communities that exist within a particular sample, and the dynamics of influence that impact on the flow of information and change. Critically this provides a much more realistic model of the future evolution of markets compared to conventional techniques which treat each person as just an uninfluenced and uninfluential individual.

While there is fascinating progress in the sphere of prediction there remain limitations and challenges.

Emergent trends can grow into dominant ones or they can recede into obscurity. So intuition, subjective judgment and decision making remain an inherent part of prediction, and integral skills of the good predictor.

In addition, the ‘rose tinted spectacle’ effect often plagues the enterprise of prediction. Can a business actually deliver what is modeled? In our experience all too often we see over optimistic estimates of awareness, penetration, and repeat rates that result in unrealistic forecasts.

Finally, to understand the future we need to understand the past. Prediction is not just about emergent trends, it’s about seeing patterns, history and trajectories. As Daniel Kahneman puts it

“The idea that the future is unpredictable is undermined every day by the ease with which the past is explained.”

So once again we find ourselves working with an imperfect insight source. A source with great strengths but also great weaknesses. That’s why ‘Predict’ is just one of the four key source areas we use at The Forge. For us, genuine insight comes from applying effort to multiple sources of information and forging them together to reveal true growth opportunities

Insight isn’t found. Insight is forged.

With thanks to Kim for the image