2014-21-April-tomorrow.jpgPredicting the future is no longer limited to seers, mothers and the US National Security Agency (NSA). Now anyone — or any company — can forecast what people will be talking about tomorrow, according to a Seattle-based start-up that specializes in "predictive social intelligence."

The company, which released the second iteration of its product today, doesn't rely on magical premonitions, intuition or manipulations. Instead, Blab applies "proprietary technology and big data processing to contextualize and predict tomorrow’s online conversations today."

It's sort of like having a crystal ball, only with less worry about shattered glass. Or something like that.

Topics of Conversation - Tomorrow

My late mother had an uncanny knack for predicting when I would go to bed crying, usually after observing me having Too Much Fun — which she somehow (correctly) assumed would irritate the universe enough to bring me to tears within short order. Despite my unresolved trauma over her accurate wet-blanket predictions, I retained a soft spot for soothsayers and fortune tellers.

Like Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind," I dream endlessly of tomorrow … and unraveling the mystery of what will happen next.

2014-17-April-Randy-Browning

But for companies and brands, visualizing the future is about far more than longing and speculation. Understanding trends and predicting what will happen next is a business imperative — essential to everything from staffing and supply chains to management and marketing.

Blab understands. While it doesn't actually predict future events, it does tap the tone and direction of millions of online conversations.

"We predict what's going to resonate with people and the conversations that are going to gain velocity up to 72 hours in advance," CEO Randy Browning told CMSWire.

Blab is trying to make better sense of the incessant and ubiquitous chatter on social networks. Right now, it has an accuracy rate of about 70 percent, which Browning expects to improve over time. "We're having fun with it," he said.

Focus Forward

Blab today released the second version of its platform, BlabPredicts2, and also announced partnerships with several agency partners, including Horizon Media, one of the largest independent media planning and buying agencies in the US.

Browning was CEO of Publicis in the West for nearly 10 years before leaving in 2010 to launch Blab. As he explains on his LinkedIn profile: