Hindsight may be 20/20, but with artificial intelligence (AI)-fueled technology you just might be able to see into the future before anyone else. NWO is a U.S.-based startup piloting a predictive trends platform designed to capture the fast-changing voice of the consumer.
“We’re genetically sequencing the life cycle of trends as they’re created and evolving. You can select any topic in the world and immediately have a full report documenting how saturated a trend is in the minds of consumers, globally and by region,” said Sourav Goswami, co-founder of NWO. “It’s like talking to a human expert who can tell you when, where, and why a trend is growing, declining, or about to reach an inflection point with impact on your business.”
Among the recent early signals Goswami held up as proof of NWO’s prescience were reports predicting the resurgence of Bitcoin, the financial impact of locust swarm movements on sugar and cotton futures, and notably, in the fall of 2020, a firestorm of online and offline behaviors around guns and tactical weaponry that constituted an “electoral powder keg” months before an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.
The startup is working with beta customers in product innovation, marketing, and supply chain management at companies in the U.S. and Europe – and has plans to move into Asia and the Middle East. While initially targeting consumer brands, Goswami said NWO’s offering cuts across any industry, such as logistics and supply chain companies.
Predictive Insights from Unexpected Inflection Points
Operating like a search engine that filters data from keywords, NWO is deceptively simple. However, a proprietary algorithm translates time-shift lagging indicators into predictive insights. The system generates detailed trend reports in about 60 seconds, analyzing patterns from tremendous amounts of social media chatter, news, and search activity, as well as information from various databases, such as patents and filings from the Federal Drug Administration in the U.S. and its European counterpart, along with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
A Career Steeped in Science
Goswami’s career is equal parts business and finance, backed by a longtime interest in science. After stints in the financial sector, he started a couple of technology companies. He currently manages a private equity real estate investment firm. He launched NWO with co-founders Pulkit Jaiswal and Imogen Low after seeing the potential in using data to predict geopolitical trends.
“Whether the industry is consumer, real estate, finance, or any sector, everything related to managing downside risk is related to anticipating what could happen three or four steps ahead,” said Goswami. “What’s exciting is creating a level playing field for any organization to apply the same data-driven strategies as financial investors, identifying early signals to head off problems and uncover new opportunities.”
One NWO beta customer gained early insights to evaluate new opportunities for its milk substitute products. Data revealed that oat milk growth rates were quickly eclipsing almond milk in concert with rising local interest in oat milk ice cream.
“We not only identified an emerging oat milk ice cream trend, but also exactly where it was happening and why,” said Goswami. “Consumer interest was spiking in Boise, Idaho, and other unexpected cities because of high-tech workforce relocations to new hubs. The company could quickly reallocate supply chain resources for distribution to these new markets.”
Important Connections from SAP.iO
After participating in the SAP.iO Foundry Berlin data and analytics cohort, Goswami saw a natural alignment with the SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain solution. The NWO co-founders also valued the go-to-market expertise SAP provided, along with introductions to customers.
“We’re a good fit with SAP because our data provides early intelligent demand signals, helping companies optimize end-to-end business processes,” said Jaiswal. “In addition, hearing directly from SAP customers helped us better understand their challenges. As a result, we tweaked our interface and user experience, including how we presented reports.”
Real-Time Research Decodes Demand Signals
Goswami saw NWO replacing teams of data scientists with immense processing power minus human error and, equally important, time lags. Humans step in at the last mile to prioritize the most effective decisions.
“Companies can’t wait weeks or even days for research. If nothing else, the pandemic uncovered systemic shortcomings, as retailers couldn’t react quickly and efficiently to a dynamic narrative that was causing huge product demand spikes and drops,” said Goswami. “Global information diffusion means organizations have to look at all the data, all the time, from all countries simultaneously.”
Business leaders operate amidst an interconnected swirl of lightning-fast micro trends; they can’t afford to base decisions on the backward glance. It’s time to replace hindsight with predictive data that translates the world’s swirling currents into decisions for a stronger future.
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This story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.