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I subscribe to a number of email newsletters because I am innately curious (and due to a case of FOMO when it comes to those organizations and individuals I find most informative and influential). Usually, I just scan them for highlights, but there is one that I read in its entirety every week. In fact, it has become something of an obsession for me. So, it is aptly named: Quartz Weekly Obsession. This interactive email from Quartz, a business-focused news organization, delivers seemingly random yet intriguing, curiosity-piquing topics, including facts and stats that any trivia buff (like me) would find mesmerizing. Over the last few years, they have published deep dives into such arbitrary and enticing subjects as inbox zero, penmanship, bachelorette parties, and The Great British Bakeoff.




This week's Quartz Weekly Obsession is about prediction and the difficulties of trying to figure out what’s coming next. It is human nature to want the ability to peer into the future to aid success or simply survival. But whether we know better or not, “We’re terrible at predicting the future.”

In summary, our psychological biases, past experiences, unbridled optimism, and inability to synthesize large amounts of data typically prevent us from making the best judgments about the future. Advances in technology are improving our ability to anticipate what’s around the corner. For example, machine learning and AI are driving algorithms that help us make better predictions—think recommendations on Netflix. The problem is much of the data being used is based on our biases and experiences, such as what we consciously indicate that we like or dislike, which may not always be the best data to inform future outcomes.

Immersion at Bishop-McCann

When it comes to measuring corporate event engagement and impact at Bishop-McCann, we also have been a little obsessed with the science of prediction. We live the challenges our clients experience in predicting what to focus on, invest in, and plan for, using only the available data they have collected from past corporate events. Some of this data includes session attendance metrics, social media buzz, and a handful of completed surveys.

To overcome this challenge, we sought out a solution that would give us unbiased insights to enable our clients to make better predictions about the future impact and success of their meetings and corporate events (including their themes, content, environment, and even speakers and entertainment). We did so in an effort to secure their investments in live experiences and assure the highest engagement effect with their audiences.

In September, we announced our exclusive partnership with Immersion Neuroscience to create Bishop-McCann Return on Experience, a SaaS-based platform with connected biometric sensors that measure unconscious emotional responses to live meeting experiences in order to accurately predict attention and engagement—or what we call “immersion.”

Through 20 years of proven research, Immersion Neuroscience has developed the Immersion Quotient that collects and scores unconscious and real-time neurologic feedback. This cuts through positivity bias, or self-reported “liking,” to robustly predict individual decisions and market outcomes. And per Quartz Weekly Obsession’s observation, we can even capitalize on the “wisdom of crowds” with the ability to gauge feedback in real-time from dozens of diverse audience participants as an even more effective means to predict the future.

How Can We Learn to Make Better Predictions?

But there’s a more effective way to predict the future than improving individual predictors: receiving input from lots of people. “The wisdom of crowds is a very important part of this project, and it’s an important driver of accuracy,” Philip Tetlock, one of the researchers who studies prediction, told NPR. One of the key takeaways from his work is that a diverse group of people drawing on different sources of information will make better predictions than a single, highly trained person or even a small group of specialists.

The best part of this futuristic technology is that it is available today, for your next content development and rehearsal session or to track real-time reactions from your audience at your next live event. Essentially, we have taken this out of the lab and can now deliver it directly into your conference ballroom and breakout session spaces, simply and affordably, with actionable insights that you can
benefit from immediately.

I am really excited about this partnership, the exceptional solution, and the differentiated value this offers our clients, along with the opportunities it can create working with other agencies. I look forward to continuing to share how we are developing new ways to predict the future and improve live experiences and results. It is going to be fun to see how this plays out. Pass me the movie theater popcorn.

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