This year CES heralded the ‘smart’ toothbrush. To some a joke, to other the future. It’s a toothbrush that records your brushing habits and exports it your mobile devices. The takeaway is everything action we take and the everything that we do can be quantified. New products of the last 3 years:
- Nike FuelBand or FitBit measures your physical activity over distance.
- Nike also has new shoes that are wif-fi enabled to analyze your form running/walking in addition to doing everything the FuelBand does.
- The SleepTime app can measure react to your phases of sleep.
- Smart toothbrushes now provide stats on how well we’re executing our morning routine.
- Countless weight loss apps keep track of your diet, calories, workout routines, et cetera.
The quantification of everything is here. But it really began in 1926 when the first standardized multiple choice SAT tests were administered. Today colleges review applicants using on high school transcripts, SAT/ACT, and AP scores. Grad schools review applicants based on college transcripts and GMAT/LSAT/GRE. What’s interesting is that the data that employers have to predict the success of a candidate is far less solid. Academic performance does not always translate to real world performance.
If you’re interviewing for a sales position and a candidate has a 3.7 GPA, a BA in Psychology from Stanford, a 745 GMAT, and an MBA from Northwestern, this candidate looks good. He has had 3 product management positions in the last 4 years at mid-tier companies. The candidate is affable, knowledgable, and your team agrees he has the skills to add to your company’s core competencies. Your problem is you have a 3 dozen candidate with similar credentials.
If you could have any data on the candidate what would it be? As a sales lead, wouldn’t you want to know how other people respond to him? Are they captured by him or are they bored? How often does he elicit each of the 7 basic human emotions: anger, fear, disgust, contempt, joy, sadness, surprise? How would this candidate impact how others reflect on your brand? How will his personality fit with your existing team? Going further we could implore, is he honest? Does he have resolve or does he exhaust easily? How many hours can he function at peak performance?
This is the data I want but right now the closest I can get is anecdotal stories from the candidate and his previous employers (biased, and also biased). It doesn’t have to be this way. I can imagine a near future where the essential personal qualities of a individual are quantifiable. Google glass and other audio/visual recognition tools provide the opportunity to capture and quantify this data. Every hire from your barista to the CEO of Goldman Sachs will be affected by it. It’s the quantification of you and the toothbrush at CES this year is a small step towards that world.