Volume + Velocity = ?

We all know and feel that the world is moving increasingly faster. Regardless of the current economic situation, events and issues (e.g. health care, climate shifts, regulatory philosophies) are rushing towards us at speeds we may not be able to reasonably deal with when they impact us.

Technology, particularly current and new forms of social media, are certainly bearing down on us whether we can manage them or not. Taken as a set of media channels, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others are acting like an amplifier creating an ever-growing volume of conversations, dialogues, and commentary that resemble more of a digital tsunami of unstructured data than coherent streams of manageable discourse.

Coupled with this never-ending volume is the fact that social media also acts as an accelerator by  increasing the speed or velocity that this tsunami picks up each second. Google’s new search appliance hopes to help us surf these break-neck waves in real-time but it is only part of the solution.

What is the answer to the dynamic equation “volume plus velocity?”

I suggest one answer is pattern recognition. But the pattern recognition response itself must be a contextual solution. All of those streams of unstructured data will have to be interpreted through the prism of each viewer’s needs. And those needs – of the same viewer – will change depending on that person’s requirements at the time of viewing as well as the robustness of the existing streams and the new conversations (writ large) added at the new ( possibly seconds later) time of viewing.

What do you think other answers are to the equation volume + velocity =

And most importantly for our industry, what are the implications for insurance companies, policyholders, producers, prospects, reinsurers, and regulators?

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Published in: on December 10, 2009 at 9:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Web Information Discovery Strategies

We all know that the digital marketplace is  continually creating ever-increasing amounts of digital content. And with a plethora of content comes at least two problems: a paucity of attention and an inability to find or otherwise leverage the growing amount of digital content.

Three firms – one we all know extremely well – and two others are using two different strategies to resolve both problems: 1. get in the middle and 2. wrap.

Google uses the ‘get in the middle’ strategy by putting themselves between us (the folks looking for information) and the sources of information. We don’t need to belabor what the technology company does and how it is broadening its footprint into areas other than search. Google is about finding information.

Two new companies – Wolfram Alpha and Book of Odds – both employ a ‘wrap’ strategy. Both of these web firms wrap information around other information, sort of like a donut with a jelly filling. And both firms are about leveraging information by presenting it to users in a context and in a way that seekers of information can relate … although that relationship is also about the context of the seeker (the seeker’s background, goals, objectives of seeking information and desire to continually investigate) as well as the context the information is presented.

Let’s first look at Wolfram Alpha. From their web site, the company says its goal is “making the worlds’ knowledge computable.” The About page discusses in part that “Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.” On the Examples page the web site has 29 categories from Mathematics to Physics to Dates & Times to Places & Geography to Colors. I suggest you click over and learn how the site works.

Now let’s turn to Book of Odds. Excerpting directly from the About page” ” Book of Odds is the world’s first reference on the odds of everyday life. It is a destination where people come to learn about the things that worry or excite them, to read engaging and thoughtful articles, and to participate in a community of users that share their interests and ambitions.”

And that learning is done in the context of news articles from a multitude of sources but grouped into four major categories: Accidents & Death, Daily Life & Activities, Health & Illness, and Relationships & Society. Seekers of information – and here we mean seekers of probabilities – will find articles both on the home page and on each of the four major category pages. In addition, Book of Odds also displays statements of odds that are not embedded in articles. People wanting to better understand how Book of Odds began can read a blog by the Founder. I also suggest you click over to the Book of Odds site to find out how that site works.

Both of these new web publishers are about exploration and discovery of information in a way that Google is not. Both are hoping to create additional value – beyond returning a site or set of sites that may (or may not) answer a seeker’s question – by establishing a context for the embedded information. Both are examples of Semantic Web or if you prefer, Web 3.0, firms. A new species trying to make a living in the always changing web terrain.

However, the challenge for both Wolfram Alpha and Book of Odds is generating sufficient and persistent profitability by:

  • Satisfying the information seeker in a contextual manner they expect or want
  • Encouraging the information seeker to continue their explorations and stay awhile, and most importantly
  • Triggering the information seeker to purchase something. Each of these new firms will be looking for a variety of revenue paths driven by the capabilities or results they provide the seekers who click over to their web sites.

Information discovery on the web is obviously so much more than search. But, and there is always a but, do you think Wolfram Alpha or Book of Odds has an opportunity to succeed as a stand-alone company 5 years from now? I’m not sure. Are you?