Much of the interest in business intelligence applications is fueled by the desire to "mistake-proof" the process of making business decisions. That's all well and good, but what if there were an application that could tell you when you (or a co-worker) was about to make a mistake? What kind of business intelligence gold mine would that be?
If a recent discovery by a University of Arizona researcher pans out, this BI El Dorado could one day be available in every enterprise boardroom in the land.
According to a press release dated April 19, Federico Cirett, a doctoral student in computer science at the university, has discovered a method of looking at data from electroencephalography (EEG) that can predict when a test subject is about to make an error about 80 percent of the time.
Using a test population of college students taking the math portion of the SAT exam, Cirett found patterns of brain activity that indicated a mistake was about to be made -- and did so within 20 seconds of the subject's initial reading of the question.
It's not as though the current technology could be used on an unobtrusive basis: Cirett used a headset developed to monitor high-stress and fatigue in military personnel as the primary human interface for the test equipment. The headset has nine sensors that record activity when test subjects are given specific tasks to accomplish, and the data from the sensors is fed into an algorithm Cirett developed. The results seem promising in their ability to predict wrong decisions in answering test questions.
Cirett explains in the press release that he's primarily interested in understanding whether students have properly learned academic lessons so that an instructor can intervene if necessary. That's nice, but I can't help but think about the potential of this EEG-based technology to make a difference in other industries.
I can imagine a room full of financial instruments traders, all wearing headsets. Before they execute a trade, they wait for a red or green light to flash on their cubicle wall, indicating whether or not they're about to make a mistake in their trade.
The same technology could easily be built into (fashionable!) headsets worn by buyers for retail merchants before they place orders for next season's clothing and accessories. Perhaps a future version could even be tied in with something like Google Glasses so that the "Go/No Go" indicator was hidden from the fashion designer's view.
Flights of fantasy are almost unavoidable once you start going down these roads. What might sales staff do with this aid? How about professional poker players? Major league baseball managers? The possibilities are endless. Of course, perhaps this line of speculation is entirely wrong. I wonder if there could be a technology to help...