I’ve been rabbiting on about them for a while, but in case you haven’t tried them yet, two very useful research websites were quietly delivered in 2009:

  1. Wolfram Alpha, which computes actual answers to questions instead of simply providing a list of sites that may (or may not!) have the answer – we played with unemployment in San Francisco compared to New York City and were instantly provided this:

    Then we asked the meaning of life, and were instantly provided this:

  2. Google Public Data gives users the ability to search and compared public data such as statistics provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Census Bureau's Population Division. Asked the same NYC vs SF question, we got this:

    Google was quite a lot harder to get, and has a lot fewer data sources (so far), but it’s still worth a look

For workforce planners, this is a big deal as they make the data needed for environment scanning much more easily accessible in a standardized manner. Instead of navigating your way through complex websites, employment rates, population statistics and other information is available at the click of a button...and in the case of our workforce planning software, automatically integrated!

So, how will you be using these new tools? And what IS the meaning of life?