The Search for a Crystal Ball
October 19, 2020
Author: Guy Soreq
"Crystal-gazing is a particularly refined art. I do not expect any of you to See when first you peer into the Orb's infinite depths." Sybill Trelawney, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J. K. Rowling
The first mention of a crystal ball was by the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder when he described how the Celtic Druids practiced divination. Since then, folklore has described the crystal ball as a powerful tool to peer into the future, to see mysteries associated with the past, or to see the present in far away lands. The latter was demonstrated most famously in The Wizard of Oz when the Wicked Witch of the West used a crystal ball to track Dorothy and her friends’ whereabouts as they traveled down the Yellow Brick Road.
In my conversations with Glowlit users, I’ve often heard purchasing managers describe their desire to gaze into a crystal ball in order to understand what will happen with the future price of a product that they need to buy today. Should the product be purchased now or later, in small quantities or large, spot or contract? All these questions would be greatly aided by a magical crystal ball, and many market intelligence companies sell their service as one.
These consulting companies undoubtedly know the industry well, relying on information gathered from their network and gut instinct derived from decades of experience. Their method is a critical part of our industry and has proven itself in the past, however as I’ve previously mentioned, it has serious drawbacks. Even when right, we must keep in mind that their predictions are merely a decisive guess.
Glowlit is a different kind of crystal ball, more akin to ability to see down the Yellow Brick Road. It allows users to see prices in real-time all over the world. By looking at the current price at the origin of the supply chain, purchasing managers can understand a great deal about the price of their goods in the future. And unlike Professor Sybill Trelawney, whose poor grasp of her gift for divination led to misinterpretation, Glowlit is never based on one clever analyst.