Tens of thousands descend on Las Vegas every winter to see the gadgets and gizmos that we’re told will change the world. For some it is a chance to see the butterfly effect while the monarch is still flapping its gossamer wings in Africa. The Consumer Electronics Show is a chance to predict and benefit from future ‘hurricanes’ in consumer and business markets.
For others it will be a chance to make their voices heard as a waterfall of tweets brings us individual analysis of the ‘real meaning’ behind this year’s CES; hype that often outweighs reality. Case in point…2012 was all about the ‘ultrabook’, essentially a thin laptop. As one writer observed, “If you want to be the first to own a new ultrabook, travel back to 2008 and buy the first MacBook Air.” Ouch. Hype just took a shot to the jaw.
CES is so compelling because it offers brand-new, shiny things that grab our attention and help us believe that the answer is ‘out there’. But what if the answer to what will change our world is actually ‘in here’?
It was alluded to in this month’s National Geographic, no where near as anticipated and talked about as CES. The February 2012 issue has an info-graphic entitled “United Dates of America”. Dating websites were analyzed and profile terms were mapped by density to their zip code. It was a geographic map of what people are talking about. It showed “acting” in Los Angeles, “musician” in Nashville, “God” in Georgia and “cornbread” in Mississippi. While those may not seem so surprising, why was “Cleopatra” the hot topic in New Mexico? There is significance behind it if we look.
‘Cleopatras’ at work
Data is what we see in National Geographic and can find in the socially enabled enterprise. It is far more useful than the newest hardware gadget but less sexy and less hyped. Social data is a treasure trove of information around what people are talking about…not just what words are being used, but topics that are of interest either broadly or within segments of the workforce (or customer base, but that’s another topic). And data we don’t expect to see or don’t understand, ‘Cleopatras’, provide valuable insight into inefficiencies and opportunities. They can be the organizational pain points or concentrations of passion. Either way, meaningful data shows up on the social radar before any BPM initiative can ferret them out, but only for enterprises that enable conversations and pay attention to the results.
We don’t need to travel to Las Vegas conventions to understand what’s coming next and will change the world as we know it. We don’t need to follow vendor hype. Data is the new/old technology and news ways of using it are the shiny part. The organizations that gather and understand their data will be able to put it to competitive use. And social data can tell us a great deal.
What if we start by using our social ‘radar’ to read our own data as a way to better focus our BPM resources?