Googles Bo Cowgill takes a swipe at the prediction market software vendors.

No Gravatar

Using Prediction Markets to Track Information Flows: Evidence from Google – (PDF file – PDF file) – by Bo Cowgill, Justin Wolfers, and Eric Zitwewitz – 2008-01-06

Bo Cowgill:

[&#8230-] Trade-by-trade data can reveal characteristics of specific working groups: What they know, how they feel, how they process and share information and how all of that changes over time. I didn&#8217-t try to put any of this in the paper because the conclusions would be sensitive, and I thought this application was pretty obvious to anybody who understood our methodology. [&#8230-]

Bo Cowgill:

I&#8217-ve also heard that other companies would find it impossible to analyze the interaction between their market and the organization. Why? Lack of data. [&#8230-]

Bo Cowgill:

Some more remarks about applications that combine prediction markets and organizational data (org charts, social networks, seating locations). The obstacle to these applications is not a lack of data. Jed mentions privacy concerns &#8212- and if he thinks this is a big obstacle then I&#8217-d be interested in discussing his thoughts.

A bigger problem is that that current prediction market vendors and consultants cannot support these applications. At heart, these vendors are software engineers and salespeople at heart, not statisticians or data miners. They want to write one system that can support lots of clients. At conferences, one hears PM vendors complain about having to do &#8220-customization&#8221- work for clients.

This approach would not work for the applications I describe for two reasons:

  1. The inputs for different clients won&#8217-t be the same. Each client&#8217-s organizational data will likely take a different structure. This makes it difficult for prediction market vendors to architect a single system that can served many clients (yet another challenge with integrating markets with other corporate IT services).
  2. The outputs for different clients won&#8217-t be the same. The business relevance and statistical power of each analysis will differ with each client&#8217-s data.

Prediction market vendors may also need to familiarize themselves with the statistical learning methods necessary to fully utilize these rich datasets. So what&#8217-s the solution? First, move to a software-and-consulting model. By &#8216-consulting,&#8217- I don&#8217-t mean &#8216-consulting on how to implement the market.&#8217- I&#8217-m talking about helping the client solve its problem using a variety of data, including prediction market data.

Second, the vendors also need to pitch prediction markets as more than a forecasting tool. People in the business world commonly identify as data junkies &#8212- probably more so than they identify with the &#8216-wisdom of crowds&#8217- ethos. It is unclear how much companies really care about accurate forecasting anyway.

On a related note, there is something that only the prediction market software vendors could do, at this time, for those who are in capacity to do so: setting up inter-industry prediction markets &#8212-or at least, handing over (with everybody&#8217-s agreement) anonymized prediction market data on industry topics to anyone else in the industry who is a client of that PM firm. I don&#8217-t know about NewsFutures or Inkling Markets, but if you look at Consensus Point&#8217-s list of clients, you&#8217-ll see that David Perry&#8217-s firm is strong in the (consumer) electronic industry &#8212-Motorola, Qualcomm, Siemens, Nokia. Use your imagination, or ask David Perry directly, for more&#8230- (I can&#8217-t talk- otherwise, next thing, I&#8217-m a dead blogger.)&#8230-

Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • Last year’s best April Fool’s Day Joke had something to do with the Wisdom Of Crowds.
  • Will HedgeStreet USA, the hypothetical InTrade USA, and the hypothetical TradeFair USA, be regulated in the future by a merged SEC+CFTC regulatory structure?
  • WORST THAN ELIOT SPITZER (if it were possible): Formula One boss, Max Mosley, had sado-masochist sex with 5 prostitutes, for 5 hours (!!), reenacting a concentration camp scene (!!) in which he played the role of both Nazi guard and inmate.
  • Is BetFair Poker a booby trap for the gullible novices? Does The Sporting Exchange (the operator of the BetFair brands) help gangs plucking down innocent recreational poker players?? To get an inkling, don’t read The Guardian, seeded by the BetFair spin doctor- read Midas Oracle.
  • The video that the technologically retarded BetFair spin doctor should watch.