Precognition – suggesting what you might want

  1. There is giving you what you already know you want (Amazon, Google)
  2. There is working out what you want (Amazon and Google’s aspiration)
  3. And then there is suggesting what you might want (Heywood Hill).

Benedict Evans here.

The quote above comes from Benedict Evans’ blog, “Search, discovery and marketing,” which I also quoted in yesterday’s blog, “How big is too big for OSS?”.

Ben is referring to the techniques used by different organisations to point you to the type of information you’re looking for, have looked for in the past or that you might be interested in in the future. It’s a thought-provoking article within the context that Ben is referring to but for me is even more interesting in the context of OSS.

I primarily think of OSS as being:

  • Efficiency engines
  • Insight engines

I’d like you to take a moment to overlay those two considerations onto Ben’s list of three information sources. Do you come up with a list of possibilities that don’t (or rarely) exist in OSS today? Would they make our OSS vastly more valuable to our customers?
I’ll dive into my thoughts on that in tomorrow’s blog.

In the meantime, I’d look to translate Ben’s list of three into the following OSS classifications:

  1. Traditional query-based OSS
  2. Predictive OSS (making predictions based on similar patterns appearing in historical data)
  3. Precognitive analytics (a term I’ve blatantly stolen from Dougie Stevenson) (making predictions from seeded and / or historical OSS data on events that have had no prior precedent and that you didn’t even know you should be looking for)

Their complexity rises from 1 through 3 but so does their potential value to customers. Classifications 2 and 3 should be what we’re aspiring to rather than building more class 1 OSS.

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