Physicist Niels Bohr said that. But you don’t have to be a Nobel prize-winning genius to know how true it is.

Marketing people don’t try to screw up new products, because it is so easy even when you are doing your level best. It is just really hard to build a model of something as chaotic as a market, feed in the secular and technology trends, and then figure out what a product should look like in 18-24 months. And if the project slips a year even really smart marketers will end up looking dumb.

Want better products?
Sure, some vendors are just caught up in maintaining their current gig. Yet many vendors are also looking for the Next Big Thing, trying to build really cool products that lots of people will like and and buy. Which is a Very Good Thing.

A big problem is knowing when key elements of the market will be in place to make the Next Big Thing the Next Profitable Thing. Back in the ’80s lots of smart folks thought that bubble memory was going to kill the disk drive market. Oops. So even smart people have a hard time figuring out what is going to happen and when.

Dear Buddha, I’d like a pony and a tiny disk array
Take the transition to 2.5″ drives from 3.5″ drives. Much smaller, lighter and power-efficient than 3.5″ drives, the only thing holding back this transition is the excessive price-per-gig premium charged for 2.5″ drives. If a vendor knew when there’d be price parity between the two sizes, they could start engineering products using the new form factor well in advance.

The crystal ball. . .
Yet how can a vendor know this until it happens? Well, it turns out that markets have remarkable predictive powers that can provide good answers to such questions. Which is just what Storage Markets is doing.

Be a stock picker
Storage Markets issues “stocks” that embody different answers to a question of interest. You buy and sell these stocks based on your beliefs about the question. The stock price rises or falls depending on good old-fashioned supply and demand. If you predict well, the value of your portfolio increases. Storage Markets tracks all this for you, as well as listing the top traders.

How do they make their money?
Simple. SM charges to ask questions. To a vendor it is a market research expense. For you, it is a free opportunity to document your predictive Mojo.

Influence storage vendor investment decisions. Have some fun. Every IT department should have at least one designated investor. That’s right – put it in your job description.

Kudos to the Storage Markets team. Comments, as always, welcome.