Do businesses need enterprise prediction markets?

Competitive advantage can be obtained either by differentiation or by low cost. Enterprise prediction markets certainly don&#8217-t foster the innovation process, and they are surely not the cheapest forecasting tool. EPMs require special software, the hiring of consultant(s), the participation of all, and a budget for the prizes. EPMs are costly, and they take time to deliver. As of today, I can&#8217-t see why any sane CEO should be implementing EPMs as a decision-making support. At the contrary, I would say that any sane CEO should fire any employee who tried to sneak in internal prediction markets, and should dismember any existing corporate prediction exchange. Right now.

It has been suggested that EPMs have helped Best Buy getting it right on the ‘HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray’ issue. It&#8217-s a boatload of bullsh*t. I know a lot about technology intelligence. It should be done by a smart and curious operator. There is no need of enterprise prediction markets to do this task. The tools you need consist of a bunch of IT news aggregators and a good search engine. Consider this:

The Inevitable Move Of iTunes To The Cloud

In the &#8216-cloud&#8217- piece above, there are facts and there are speculations. You&#8217-ve got much more technology intelligence reading the &#8216-cloud&#8217- piece above than you would get from a crude, plain and simple prediction market. Gimme a break with EPMs. Make no sense at all.

Contrast EPMs (which are costly) with public prediction markets (a la InTrade or BetFair), where probabilistic predictions are offered for free. That makes all the difference for the reason that the added accuracy brought by prediction markets is very small. Market-generated odds are handed out for free to journalists &#8212-still, few of them take the bait. The market-powered crystal ball is worth peanuts.

The reason CEOs are paid millions is that only a small percent of the population of business administration managers has the ability to cut through the non-sense and the balls to cut the cost of the non-sense. It is a rare skill. I am calling on CEOs to end EPMs. Right now.

6 thoughts on “Do businesses need enterprise prediction markets?

  1. Robin Hanson said:

    So you are a bit fan of prediction markets because sometimes they are just barely more accurate than other sources, just barely enough to make it worth your while to lift your hand to click on a link, but certainly not enough to be worth actually paying for such info? Not even if you are a large enterprise with many millions of dollars riding on such forecasts? And the evidence for your claim “I know a lot about technology intelligence”? That’s it?

    P.S. Since you won’t respond to my private emails, I’ll have to ask you in public: why isn’t Consensus Point in your list of Software For Prediction Markets?

  2. Chris F. Masse said:

    I made a valid point. The EPM info is costly, and any CEO’s goal is to slash costs. Traditional means (firing a non-performing employee, hiring a better one) is what I think any CEO would do in this case.

    You are a prof; you don’t reason like a CEO. You enjoy complex situations. I think a CEO wants more simplicity. You enjoy EPMs (which you sell); a CEO should reject this complexity.

    You don’t have made the case for EPMs, so far. I blogged many times in the past that you, guys, should demonstrate the specific cases where EPMs make a difference. You have been too lazy to do that.

    I answer e-mails with a content, provided I have time.

    I try to list things in the lists I have, provided I have time. I try to update them once in a while.

    I don’t list people with a behavior I don’t like. I don’t like people who hide behind a pseudonym or another name.

    1. One conference organizer does that. I don’t list him, and I don’t link to him.

    (Some “research scientists” share my judgment. And I put it plural.)

    2. I was sorry to see that another person in our field used this practice:

    There is no problem in having a verbal fight with me. I don’t carry any grudge. However, as I said above, I hate people lying about their identity. I can’t stand that.

    (On top of that, I don’t like “flaky” people, as a lot of people have used that adjective to describe that person.)

    So, my turn to ask you a question.

    1. Why aren’t you making more effort to come up with a specific reason about why businesses should use EPMs (as opposed to laughable reasons that any first-year MBA student will debunk within 5 seconds)?

    2. Why aren’t working with a serious EPM provider, like NewsFutures, CrowdCast, Inkling Markets, or else? “Flaky” is exactly what they are not.

    P.S.: Spigit should now be added in the list:

  3. Robin Hanson said:

    Chris, you aren’t exactly a CEO either, right? We try to encourage companies to collect good data comparing market results to other methods, and to publish and publicize these comparisons. What we can see looks good, but it would of course be great to get more data. Not sure what else you want.

    So you aren’t listing Consensus Point because you think they are “flakey” because you think someone from there was behind the Chris Masse spoof site? I told you privately at the time who was behind that and you never responded or asked for my evidence. I’m not sure exactly what evidence has persuaded you so completely, but I’m pretty sure whatever bit strings you are using as evidence can be faked – there is other more reliable evidence. You have been played, Chris, and you don’t seem to care.

  4. Niall O'Connor said:

    In the interests of investigative journalism should this not be brought into the public domain?

  5. Chris F. Masse said:

    “Not sure what else you want.”

    I think that to convince, EPMs should own a niche. EPMs should show that they solve (for a start) one problem across companies (project management, demand forecasting, whatever), solve that one problem much better than the traditional methods, give good results in any company where EPMs are applied to, and at a reasonable cost compared to the alternatives. All the arguments and lite business cases go in all kind of directions. You do not convince me, so far. You should drill vertically and own a niche. Then you will be convincing.

    I don’t mind someone making a spoof website. People can mock me. (I have re-published the stuff, and Mike Giberson had a good laugh at my expense.) What is problematic is business people taking a fake identity, and then lying about the whole thing. I want to be far away from this kind of people. I want clarity. I have clarity with Emile, Adam, Matt, Leslie, etc. They are people I trust. I never caught them lying.

    “I told you privately at the time who was behind that and you never responded or asked for my evidence.”

    I never had a conversation with you on that, or received any message from you on that. But if it is the argument that says that a rogue, fired employee did it, I am not convinced.

    I do e-mails, FaceBook messages, LinkedIn messages, and Twitter messages. I don’t do “IM”, telepathy, or tables that talk with deceased famous people.

    Niall, I don’t get what you are talking about —but maybe that’s because I need a cup of coffee.

  6. Chris F. Masse said:

    “You have been played”

    What if it were Robin Hanson who was “played” here?

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