The (black) art of prediction

As this is the last day of 2006, many pundits are making bold, or in some case, ridiculous, predictions about the future. Some have even made predictions about the past, a bizarre action to be sure, but one that seems to have happened.

Prediction is an art. Some times it goes wrong. Badly wrong. Sometimes good companies make bad decisions based upon bad predictions. This is in part why SGI dropped the Beast and Alien in the late 90’s to hop on board the Itanium express.

Marketing winds up beating reality, until customers get their gloves on a technology. The harder you make a technology to use, to acquire, to leverage, the fewer sales you are going to get, unless you have some sort of magical bundling agreement and are a dominant player, a monopolist, in a market, and can get the market to do your bidding.

I will hold that picture of Itanium sales predictions as an example of what happens when a market analyst or three, without a real clue, gets ahold of marketing materials, and makes up their mind. Without bothering to really dig into the issues. And understand them.

Most of the predictions you will hear this year are from the sort of people who also don’t really have a deep clue as to what they write about. They may have read or heard something interesting, and are now talking about how Cell-BE © will take over the world of HPC.

You want to know what is going to happen in a market? Ask the people who are making the decisions what their plans are.

What surprises me is how often it is at odds with what we hear/read out of pundits and talking heads/typing fingers.

Don’t follow what people are saying or writing about, follow what they are doing and planning on doing. That will provide more information than the pundits could. For example, if you read one set of Microsoft funded pundits versus another set of Sun funded pundits, you might get the sense that OpenSolaris or Vista/Longhorn will rule the future. Of course if you ask the people whom are making the decisions about the future computing of their organizations, they will tell you a completely different story.

Our advice is simple. Don’t follow what people (who largely don’t matter in the larger scope of things) say, follow what people (who make decisions and take action based upon such decisions) do. Your predictive powers and accuracy will increase. Substantially. Thats our prediction.

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