Future of Money: Financial Forecasting

While vacationing, computer vision scientist Antonio Torralba noticed odd shadows on the wall—curious shadows that shouldn’t exist. After investigating the shadows cast by unseen objects, he realized that his hotel room inadvertently became a pinhole camera that painted the outside world inside. “These images are hidden to us, but they are all around us all the time.” This idea launched a journey of effectively seeing what can’t be seen right in front of you.

Subsequent research after Antonio’s illumination studied how that fuzzy blur at the edge of a corner actually reveals objects that exist beyond line of sight—and he developed “active imaging” via lasers to create high-res images of objects around corners. Being able to “see around corners” is a complement of highest regard for a person that can see what can’t be seen, effectively preparing for a secret future. We covet seeing around corners because we want to predict our futures with confidence. 

When considering spreadsheets (rather than lasers), the same ideas apply to models that forecast futures using known assumptions and risks. However, 2020 obliterated known assumptions and risks, forcing all of us to reexamine “business as usual.” Companies are striving for survival due to the doubt the pandemic instilled in our financial present. With vaccination in progress and over a year of pandemic experience to draw on, new signals and new forms are emerging. While we’re not quite in “all bets are off” territory, resourceful enterprises are rethinking what stability means in order to accurately plan for revenue while investing in uncharted tomorrows.

The following vignettes offer glimpses into possible tomorrows that recharacterize a business’s relationship with money. The technological underpinnings are viable based on existing science, but the interplay between new asset classes, revenue realization, taxable identities may challenge existing systems and entrenched perceptions.

Cuantify (Sell Your Data)

As a business owner—or consumer—you contribute a lot of data (for free) to all the services you directly interact with (and even many that you don’t). Services that monitor and collect every click “in order to present a better browsing experience” rarely present a demonstrable change from the expected experience—and yet they store it all. You were forced to opt-in, but what if the company hits hard times and offloads profiles like yours to a reseller? Or maybe the company gets acquired and your entire history is now a contributed dataset on some BI tool that lacks providence, governance, and context. That’s changing with Cuantify.

Cuantify makes managing your data—and getting paid for it—easy.

You’re presented with a list of valued attributes on the Cuantify marketplace and control the elements, history, services, and combinatory levels on a scale that you’re comfortable with. Cuantify licenses your preferences to your selected targets with patented dataprint ID middleware technology and serves as your watchtower to help monitor usage over time—and you get paid. When the term expires, your licensed data become encrypted and unretrievable. 

Cuantify also stops unsanctioned and/or illegal uses of your data immediately by poisoning your contributed dataset. As a premium, you can even designate preferred and prohibited remix options so you control what contributed data gets paired with external sets. With Cuantify, companies opts-in to sharing on your terms

Smooth Operator (Reverse Factoring)

Running small businesses is a balancing act. When the value of incremental dollars are amplified, managing cash flow can be critical. And yet, floating between variable customer demand and inconsistent cash flow—or lacking leverage to set friendly vendor payment terms—divergent influences conspire into conflicting priorities. What if it was easier to plan so that revenue and bills rolled up instead of piling up? 

Get control of your cash flows by “smoothing out” your expenses into repeatable, expected levels. With Smooth Operator you can turn any expense into a simple flat amount month after month.

Use Smooth Operator to:

  • Allocate a budgeted amount from your monthly revenue to pay for monthly expenses from a particular vendor. Turn leftover allocations into greater returns by investing in an interest-bearing account or using that balance to pay another vendor that’s registered with the service. 
  • Turn recurring revenue into upfront working capital today—without the mess or dilution of factoring. You can even accelerate those annoying net-90 terms.
  • Get better terms and get paid with Smooth Operator’s Negotiation as a Service—we sit in all those meetings with procurement so you don’t have to.

Take control of your cash flow forecasts with Smooth Operator, the easy way to focus on your business.

Small Business League

Historically, sole proprietors and 1099 workers have less favored status than W2 earners—where personal flexibility negatively affects the financial establishment’s risk models. It’s a frustrating paradox when lucrative contracts and deposited checks don’t equate to the kind of financial continuity that underwriters require. 

Instead of trying to convince bankers that they’re focusing on the wrong metrics, stake your future with the big leagues—or at least look the part. Join the Small Biz League (SBL), a platform that pools resources for sole proprietors and 1099 contractors and in order to pay a W2 wage and establish legitimacy in the eyes of lenders, property management companies, and insurance brokers. 

SBL provides virtual business entities with equitable access to credit boosting factors and office management tasks—including taxes, payroll, compliance, and reporting. Join an SBL team for a few months to convey the stability you need for major transactions like a mortgage (without 24 months of history) or join long-term and build a profit-sharing collective. (We’ll even answer the phones.)

The vignettes presented here—and others in our Future of Money series—offer a glimpse into self-imposed manipulations about money. As companies reimagine “business as usual,” we’re seeing familiar forms evolve into new ones. New entities that account for remote gig trends without penalizing flexibility. New vendor expense management that smooths out the bumps in your forecasting. New opportunities to stake the providence and fair use of a growing asset class. Whether tools like these make us smarter about money or just do smart things for us, there is no one size fits all standard for the influence of finance on businesses of all scales.

At Modernist Studio, we’re optimistic about the Future of Money. We’ll continue thinking about new ways to interact with money—ways that account for not only what we want to achieve, but who we wish to become.

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