Someone asked me recently what I thought was the key to the U.S. remaining competitive in the 21st century. The standard answer is creativity, innovation and collaboration. What I said was:
The U.S. needs to develop better systems to collect and analyze real time information and to develop organization structures that delegate management decision making authority to those who need to respond to this information.
(A previous post on this theme is here.)
It has long been rumored that Google can forecast stock prices based on search results and their trends. I have no doubt that this is true or it should be true. This is a perfect example of what I mean by collecting and analyzing real time information. The Indian student who posted information on Twitter about five doctors after the most recent bombing there is perhaps an easier example to understand.
"Being able to detect events early, or even before they occur, can carry substantial value, some times in the form of significant financial gain, other times in the ability to save lives, or even in providing the opportunity to change the nature of what is to happen.
As the world has moved into an always-on, real-time mode, traditional methods of “news”, i.e. the morning delivered printed newspaper or even the hourly newscast, have been overtaken in their ability to provide early indications of what is happening by information traveling rapidly through media such as Email, SMS, Twitter, Facebook updates, etc.
The increased speed of delivery and accessibility to news creates opportunities to better understand developing scenarios even as the growing volume of content creates challenges in sifting, filtering and identifying actionable information about the future."
The volume of digital information is doubling every two years. This rate may even increase as more and more Internet connected sensors are deployed. Whoever best collects and analyzes this data flow will have a strategic advantage. Whoever adopts an authority structure to act on this information will win in social, political and economic terms.
This post was inspired in part by this story on ReadWriteWeb.