What Do Game Theory and Business Intelligence Have in Common?
More and more, metrics is becoming the new name of the game.
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with the CEO and CMO of a company taking a unique approach to the increasing demand for metrics. Playing in the world of Business Intelligence, Wiktive aims to provide their clients with rigorous support for big decisions.
As the name suggests, Wiktive combines two well-known tools – wikis and predictive markets – to generate what they term “collective intelligence.” Wikis, excellent at aggregating data, are notoriously bad at analysis; predictive markets, lacking the power of aggregation, are fantastic at statistical modeling and assessing value. Wiktive is designed to harness the power of both: its model allows the wiki function to aggregate data and predictive market aspect to analyze it, creating a “best of both worlds” solution.
Essentially, a Wiktive market functions like a simplified stock market except, instead of stocks, participants trade ideas. The “owner” of the market (a business, an academic institution, what have you) poses a question to the members of the market—a group of thought leaders hand-selected to participate. Then the idea generation (the wiki aspect) and the subsequent trading of these ideas (the predictive market aspect) begin. Any member of the market can generate a solution to the question posed; these ideas are then traded, like stock, within the market. Each participant is given a set amount of virtual money that can be used to buy ideas and all participants have the power to both contribute ideas and to trade other people’s ideas. You “win” by having the “best” portfolio of ideas (conceptualized as those trading at the highest price).
For example, Wiktive was engaged by a major federal laboratory. This lab had, in the course of another experiment, found a way to produce a strong, organic, waterproof binding substance. A glue, if you will. The lab knew they had something marketable on their hands, but was not in the “glue” business and did not know what steps to take next. They employed a Wiktive market to generate ideas on how to use this substance. The market came up with 82 ideas, nine of which were traded into a prominent position. The lab was able to leverage these final market recommendations to generate profit from their accidental discovery, funding further research.
Wiktive is effective because it:
- Allows for a limitless number of solutions by posing an open ended question (as opposed to a survey)
- Has thought leaders generating these solutions and
- Taps into what people actually choose when something is at stake rather than what they say they’d choose hypothetically, all the while leveraging aspects of game theory which keep members engaged and active—in fact, Scientific American named “gamelike reality” one of its World Changing Ideas 2010
The only potential snag I see is that the ultimate success of the market depends entirely on selecting the right participants—this places the onus entirely on the owner of the market to find quality thought leaders to participate. The possible pitfall, then, is not in the system itself, but in the recruitment process. As I learned in theater, a successful show is 80% casting, 20% everything else.
Still, the range of applications is exciting. My brain jumped immediately to use in market research and advertising, but here’s another idea: what if instead of surveying CEOs on the state of their industry for the next year, you had them participate in a Wiktive market? What other applications do you see for your business?
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