Learning from Google

A colleague forwarded me a TEDx talk by Andreas Ekström about the power Google wields as the keeper of the world's mightiest database. His discussion got me thinking about the data mining we do as part of the front end of innovation.

Yes, this whole thing with Google continues to be creepy. And yes, I continue to think Google is in fact Skynet (look it up). Even FastCompany agrees on that point.

But seriously, what Google is doing is profound and unprecedented. They are amassing an enormous collection of data while getting better and better at querying that data to learn things. In Ekström's examples, Google is essentially predicting the future by looking at the right leading indicators.

Good innovation is built on deep empathy with our users / customers / members and to get there we need both data and insights derived from that data. We're building a growing body of data to query but we need to get better at asking the right questions and doing good analysis to get solid answers to them.

Google is spending a lot of time and money quietly practicing at this art form. I'm increasingly convinced we need to get more serious about doing the same and incorporating these skills into our innovation process.