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How do you design financial simulations so their users are naturally prompted to test-drive their assumptions using Monte Carlo-like techniques? More provocatively, how does a spreadsheet or any other innovation get you to explore it without human intervention, and without forcing users to read pages of esoteric documentation? What a terrific question for Microsoft’s Excel group.

In fact, the Wall Street whizzes who develop and sell complex derivatives and “synthetic securities” have already confronted similar design issues. Years ago, these groups treated their “analysis/test” tools as proprietary and wouldn’t share them with anyone. Today, however, they give their testing algorithms and analytics to customers. That way, the customers can literally see for themselves how the derivatives and securities they’re being asked to purchase will perform under a variety of financial circumstances. As persuasive as the derivatives sales folk may be, the derivatives innovators fully understand that their customers need to be able to convince themselves.

The autopersuasion algorithm is also emerging in the hugely capital-intensive automobile and aerospace markets. Big suppliers now send Boeing, Toyota, and Ford design software and simulations that let them dynamically examine the features of proposed subsystem innovations before they’re built. Autopersuasion becomes as much a vehicle for risk reduction as a sales tool, and it creates conversations and collaborations between customer and vendor that could never take place otherwise.

As consumers of innovation become ever more sophisticated, the demand for the innovative autopersuasive approach is sure to rise. You’re welcome to disagree with this perspective, of course. But please don’t try to convince me I’m wrong; give me something to convince myself you’re right.

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