The desire to look into the future is as old as humanity itself. From wanting to know where the next meal is coming from to placing bets on the Grand National - a view of the future has an obvious attraction.
Nowadays, businesses are turning from witchcraft and wizardry and looking to something a little more scientific. They want to figure out what is to come and give themselves an edge.
These days, it's all about data science.
New technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive systems, coupled with the promise of Big Data are creating the illusion that all questions can be answered - even those which pertain to the future.
The challenge of course is that the only data we have - is from the past. And whilst you may subscribe to the view that past performance predicts future performance - you will in fact be disappointed. It's just a question of when.
Of course, data science can, if wielded correctly, sustain a competitive advantage. It can swing the odds in your favour as you navigate an uncertain future. If your predictions are 10% more accurate than your competitors - well that is an edge.
It's like the adage of outrunning a bear. In fact you don't have to, you just need to run faster than the person next to you.
To find out more about using data from the past to foresee the future and the role of data scientists - watch this video on Data Analytics. This is Part 1 - from descriptive to prescriptive.