Stuff that works for you: A BRAIN wave

Executives grapple with all kinds of unknown variables inside their businesses: component costs, sales demands, future revenues. Forecasting them is as much art as it is science, and prone to errors. HP Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., is making those forecasts more accurate by using market dynamics to tap into the collective wisdom of a company’s employees.

BRAIN (Behaviorally Robust Aggregation of Information in Networks) is a web-based tool using proprietary algorithms that calculates the probability of future events. It’s currently in use at HP to predict the future price of product components, as well as in a pilot project at Swisscom, Switzerland’s biggest telco. In some cases, BRAIN makes 90% more accurate predictions. One secret to success: pay employees if they predict correctly.