I am going to introduce you to the idea of anticipation management. I hope that by the end of this you will agree with me that at the end of the day, this is what the value of information is all about. Alright, you might ask, what is anticipation management? I define anticipation management as the ability for businesses to be able to leverage their information across departmental silos in order to look into the future. Isn’t that what business intelligence is supposed to be about? Of course, but is it really?
Here’s where I think we are headed with information management. What management really wants to be able to do is to anticipate what is going to happen next. There are actually two categories of information management: the environment that helps you assess results. In other words, how successful was our last marketing campaign? How many customers paid their bills on time. How much money is in the bank and how much do customers owe us? Within this category is also the need to look across departmental silos to understand not just what happened with customers in one product line but across product lines — and across partners and suppliers. A lot of what we are seeing in the market these days fall into this area. This is important and it is hard. To get to that single view of the customer requires some heavy lifting – like having master data — a single definition of key elements that define your company.
The second category is game changing. What would most companies pay to be able to look into the future and figure out what customers will want to buy next year? What would they do if they could anticipate where their biggest weaknesses will be and fix them before they become a crisis? This is where I expect to see investment and innovation in information management in the coming years. Here is what the characteristics of this anticipation management software will be (just one person’s opinion):
1. Anticipation management software will combine traditional analytics with analysis of text from everything from blogs to social networks.
2. It will be based on sophisticated pattern analysis.
3. It will evolve so that it will be able to compare this type of data over time so that information is not analyzed in isolation but rather in context with what has happened in the past and what is expected in the future.
4. Context will be the key to anticipation management. For example, you might find that there is an overwhelming degree of chatter and customer queries about a specific capability. Your first reaction might be to add that new function into the next generation of products. The reality might be very different in context: your biggest competitor plans to unveil that capability in three months. If you make that capability the foundation for your new product you will miss the boat.
Do I think that you can go out and order anticipation management today? No. I think it needs to be a way that management begins to think about how they can use information to make strategic decisions about the future. Anticipation management will not be easy. It will require companies to take a step back and look at their data in a very different way. But it will be worth the trouble.
So, talk to me. Let me know what you think of this crazy idea. Let’s have a conversation about what it will take to make anticipation management real.