I recently had an interesting conversation over lunch about being prescient in life and business. After discussing Jeff Bezos’ drone delivery initiative, a very accomplished colleague of mine and leader in his industry was talking about an interview he gave in the late 80's in Fortune Magazine.
In the interview he predicted that individuals would soon have the ability to manage trades using their small personal computers while sitting by the pool. In essence, he was describing the self-trading and myriad of other self-wealth management capabilities as well as hand-held computer devices made available to individuals over the last decade.
E-trading led to the birth of a whole new occupation and market: day-trading. However, during this conversation, he did not give himself much credit for being a creative visionary for making this prediction. But if not a visionary during the pre-tech boom, then what? If not visionary, then extremely insightful and perhaps super tuned-in to emerging/potential trends?
So I began to ponder… How is Insight Generated?
This conversation stuck with me. Both Jeff Bezos and my colleague were ahead of their times, that much is clear. But how does one become insightful enough about their surroundings to make predictions as telling as these? Is there a possibility of an insight equation? Here’s where my mind wondered:
- (Understanding the current state of things) + (Having a pulse and memory of trends) + (Realization of where everyone else is) = Insight Generated
Or maybe it’s
- (Understanding your own presence) + (Having a pulse and memory of trends) + (Realization of the current environment) = Insight Generated
Let’s try the equation with a simple example of something that gets played out in my house all the time between my two young daughters (9yrs & 7.5 years old):
- (My mom sees me teasing my little sister, my little sister is starting to cry) + (Last time I teased my little sister, I was scolded and sent to my room until I could learn to play nice) + (My little sister is crying and calling for mom; my mom is busy making dinner and her phone is ringing) = I am going to be sent to my room.
The point here is that insight generation depends on your ability to collect, organize and retain data, generate a variety of analytic models from that data, and then analyze the generated models themselves.
The example above is truly simple and really isn’t insight, it’s understanding cause and effect of your own actions.
Let’s think about something a little more innovative than my children sparring…
- (The SONY walkman allows individuals to enjoy music personally anywhere) + (Digital Technologies are advancing into a more connected, handheld device world) + (Human expectations around immediate entertainment satisfaction is growing) = IPod
And, along with the IPod came the entire evolution of the music industry.
So why should we care about insights? And, why is this important in the Marketing world? Huge amounts of data are being captured every second. If you can make sense of this data as it applies to your business, you’ll be able to act upon it. Hard-earned insights that are as actionable as possible are primed to drive value for your organization. And ultimately, this is how businesses set themselves apart from the competition.
I’m curious! Do you have an insight equation you’d like to share?