TIBCO Software Inc. founder and CEO Vivek Ranadivé and veteran tech journalist Kevin Maney explore the science behind the ways our brains act as predictive machines, and how computers are being developed with the same predictive ability.
The Two-Second Advantage
How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future — Just Enough
By Vivek Ranadivé and Kevin Maney
Technology is reaching a breaking point; with too much data overwhelming computing’s capabilities, a new model of information technology is needed. On the other hand, the predictive nature of the brain is an expanding area of scientific discovery. And the intersection of the two—computer science and neuroscience—is an increasingly hot field that’s likely to give birth to the next generation of information technology and change the way companies function.
In The Two-Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future—Just Enough (Crown Business; September 6, 2011), founder and CEO of the international software company TIBCO, Vivek Ranadivé and veteran journalist Kevin Maney explore the science behind the ways our brains act as predictive machines, and how computers are being developed with the same predictive ability.
What made Wayne Gretzky the greatest hockey player of all time wasn’t his speed on the ice, or the uncanny accuracy of his shots, but rather his ability to predict where the puck was going to be an instant before it arrived. In other words, it was Gretzky’s brain that made him exceptional. Scientists have found over the last 15 years that what distinguishes the greatest musicians, athletes, and performers isn’t just their motor skills or athletic abilities, it is the ability to anticipate events before theyhappen—where a line of music or a 90-miles-an-hour fastball is going a split-second before anyone else.
Today that same principle is being applied to the way computers “think.” As a result, companies will be able to use a new generation of technology to anticipate what customers want to buy before customers even know, website traffic jams before they occur, or product snags before the problems happen. This ‘two-second advantage’ will change the way businesses are run and offer companies an enormous competitive edge.
The Two-Second Advantage offers a look at how many companies and industries are building up to predictive technology—and making use of the technologies that already exist. For example, retailers have been making predictions about future purchases since the dawn of commerce. When a grocery store puts out shelves of candy during the weeks leading up to Halloween, or an office-supply store sets up a display of school supplies in late August, they’re making predictions about demand. Obvious seasonal promotions have been overshadowed in recent decades by more sophisticated data mining, in which a retailer analyzes all sales transactions and figures out how to cross-market products that sell well together. The ability to make predictions about specific shoppers, though, is a new frontier.
Sam’s Club’s system, called eValues, was launched in 2009; it offers shoppers who enroll in the store’s “plus”-level memberships special discounts based on products they’ve purchased in the past. Behind the scenes, Sam’s software starts by culling billions of historical transactions, then leaves past transactions behind to look at more than just previous purchases to find patterns. Predicting when the shopper will return to restock an item or even seemingly random purchases are only a few advantages the software provides.
Innovative ideas about building brain-like predictive talent into machines are popping up in everything from casinos to power companies to vineyards. Also the way, they’re changing the way executives think about organizations. The authors explore how ‘two-second advantage’ technology will make a difference—how it will help companies operate better, make cities safer and more livable, help the economy run more smoothly, and save lives by helping stop terrorism and disease.
We’ve already seen how computers armed with just a little predictive talent can solve interesting problems and change the way organizations work (e.g. the Jeopardy! winning computer). In the not-distant future, talented machines can become supercable servants, helping with crime prevention, customer satisfaction, city traffic, and more. The technology is only now emerging, and it will take work and breakthroughs to fully realize its potential, but Ranadivé and Maney offer an early peak at where our world is going.
VIVEK RANADIVÉ is the founder and CEO of the leading international software company, TIBCO Software Inc., enabling organizations to become event-driven. He is also the co-owner and vice chairman of the Golden State Warriors NBA franchise. A frequently cited expert in the media on real-time computing with regular appearances on Fox Business, Bloomberg TV and CNBC, Ranadivé is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Power of Now.
KEVIN MANEY is Editorial Director at VSA Partners. He writes for Fortune, The Atlantic, Fast Company, and other publications, and was the technology reporter at USA Today for more than twenty years. He is the author of the critically acclaimed books The Maverick and His Machine and Trade-Off.
The Two-Second Advantage by Vivek Ranadivé and Kevin Maney
On-sale: September 6, 2011 | Hardcover | 256 pages | ISBN: 978-0-307-88765-8 | Price: $25.00 | Also available as an eBook
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