Better memory through data


We all lose things. Some of us are just better at finding them than others.

I had to remind myself of that fact the other night in Las Vegas. I went to dinner with a friend at Brio, an Italian restaurant in the Town Square shopping center on The Strip. As usual, I drove my car and dutifully parked it, but not right next to the restaurant. (This is an important fact.) For those of you who don't know, just about everything in Vegas is big. Big casinos, big parking lots, big stakes and sometimes big mistakes.

A few years ago, I forgot which hotel I had parked at. (Getting the floor wrong is inconvenient enough, never mind the wrong building!) Two hours later, I finally found my Acura on the third floor of Bally's Casino. I vowed then to take a always picture of a sign near where I park my car – e.g., A4 or C3. My iPhone makes that easy enough to do.

For some reason, though, I didn't follow my standard operating procedure this time – and I would soon pay the price.

Twenty minutes after dinner, I'm speaking to Town Square security about a potential car theft. (Note that popular cars are, not surprisingly, the most stolen.) I'm describing my car to a couple of guys. It's a black Acura TSX with Rush, Apple and Breaking Bad stickers on rear window. (Hey, I'm consistent.) I figured that my car had been jacked. I was certain of where I had parked it, yet some other car was in that spot.

Long story short: I was off by a good distance and I drove home safe and sound.

Finding a better way

Yes, I should have snapped that picture of my spot at 6pm. Those two seconds would have saved me a good hour's worth of time, not to mention the worries about my impending senility and an enhanced doubt about the accuracy of my memory. (No wonder I like Memento so much.)

Still, what if there were a better way? What if I didn't have to remember to snap a pic? What if I could use technology and location-based data to remember not just where I parked my car, but where to find my wallet and other "dumb" devices? And what if my car had actually been stolen? Or what if an airline loses my luggage?

Fortunately, solutions to longstanding problems like these are here – now. Products like Tile (pictured below) are enabling the Internet of Things. Via the device and its attendant app, perhaps people like me can avoid embarrassing senior moments.

Simon says

Technology and data often get bad raps (re: PRISM, privacy concerns, hacking, etc.) It's hard to argue, though, that we're also living in an era of remarkable innovation and opportunity. We are solving centuries-old problems like theft and losing physical objects.


What say you?


About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. His ninth will be Slack For Dummies (April, 2020, Wiley) He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

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