Having a “Crystal Ball”: The Ability to Predict Events and Trends Before They Occur

What would it be worth to your company right now to have your own personal “Merlin,” complete with a crystal ball?

Having such a capability could provide you future market trends, competitor plans, or potential impacts of your own decisions…all before they happen.  The potential to have this capability is no longer in the realm of fiction.  It is very real, and it represents a powerful business advantage to those who utilize it.

Ultimately, one’s engagement with anything in the future boils down to a matter of risk.  The insurance industry grasped this fact long ago, underwriting our lives, possessions and capital assets collectively for around $1.1 trillion dollars a year. While actuarial tables can plot relatively predictable risk curves over time for many activities or tangible assets, they are less effective at providing in real-time a plot of dynamic risk events and trends in the cut-and-thrust of the business environment on a daily, weekly or quarterly basis.  For this, a crystal ball is needed.

Butchko has built a version of the proverbial crystal ball, with its bSMARTTM platform. It is a powerful suite of tools built from years of experience in risk analysis.  Assessing Risk is not new.  What is new is assessing and applying the vast sets of data out there that – if harnessed in the right way – can be drawn into a focused picture of one’s current and future risk.  When data is factored into the risk picture, you not only generate a more granular look at the near term risks, but also get a glimpse into what looms out over the horizon. This predictive capability was not available just a few short years ago.

Butchko applies Listening and Alerting technology drawn both from a baseline set of data in social media, radio, TV, blogspace, streaming sources, and print media data feeds, as well as tailored internal sets of data specifically related to a client’s profile. bSMARTTM weaves these myriad data threads into an analytical platform capable of applying an infinite set of rules, weights, and value to the data.  The outcome, displayed in real time, provides insight into how dynamic shifts in public or private risk factors impact one’s most valuable assets. Risk indicators are constantly updated and a business executive is empowered to step beyond an emotional response and make calculated decisions on relevant, as opposed to dated, risk profiles.

An organization that is in touch with trending information will most definitely be at a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  This is especially crucial to businesses operating in market sectors that are in flux, such as the oil & gas industry.  With the precipitous drop in the price of oil, companies operating on relatively thin margin’s at the best of times are experiencing the worst of times – with no end in sight.  A tool that provides the ability to constantly weigh risks as the company moves through this bear market, provides a an edge that others will not have.  With the razor thin margins in this environment expected to continue in the foreseeable future, having this capability to push the risk envelope can be the difference between survival or demise for a company.

So how does bSMARTTM work? 

Using the Oil & Gas industry as an example, there is preliminary interest in the suite’s ability to provide intelligence-driven, risk-based indications of volatility events that would be significant and relevant enough to drive pricing shifts up, or down.  Rather than making “gut-based” calls, in a time of razor thin margins traders need a tool that takes the emotion out of the equation and can analyze factors within financial market data feeds, geopolitical event trends through trending feeds such as Twitter, and rules-based decision triggers that project shifts before or as they occur.  bSMARTTM’s risk engine makes sure that the client gets insights into relevant and significant volatility changes within the market.

In the security arena, bSMARTTM can provide real-time metrics, as well as trending and alert information to companies experiencing oilfield theft.   The downturn in the oil patch has unanticipated consequences, especially for companies operating in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale Play along the Mexican border.  As wells and operations in the area are idled, millions of dollars of oilfield equipment are being stored for future re-activation in laydown yards throughout the region.  Many operators attach tracking devices to their equipment, however little thought was given to response and recovery of assets that are – in spite of the tracking devices – stolen anyhow and smuggled in plain sight across the Mexican border.  Local law enforcement is inundated with reports of theft, and does not have the resources to investigate and prosecute all the cases that are referred to them.  The federal authorities do not consider oilfield theft a priority, unless it reaches a very substantial threshold in terms of dollar amount.  At this time, the only recourse most companies have is to file an insurance claim with their provider, which can be a costly long-term strategy.

bSMARTTM can provide real-time alerts when assets are moved in unauthorized conditions, so that security can notify law enforcement to interdict potential theft.  It also can be used by insurers to track, and provide accountability data to compare against claims as well as shifts in risk.  The latter capability could be used to provide data-driven metrics for changes in risk premiums levied on companies. Finally, it can be used by law enforcement to analyze oilfield theft trends and patterns.  This would be an invaluable tool to inform the deployment and response of law enforcement to the problem.

The data universe can be unruly, chaotic and noisy. A disciplined, intelligent approach to orchestrating that data into usable, actionable information that has predictive value is what smart companies will be doing in the future.