Many of you will be familiar with the Hollywood hit movie Moneyball, which told the story of how the use of data in American baseball assembled a winning team. It feels as though we’re now at a tipping point in how AI will be heavily immersed in society and business. Narrowing down to the discussion point at hand - both hold unbound and un-thought of potential in transforming how humans come to optimal decisions.
Data, algorithms, and sources of competitive advantage
The increased volume and velocity in the accumulation of data means it can be daunting for a business to effectively use algorithms and AI to help make decisions. Whether these are strategic decisions (for example, influencing a company acquisition decision) or smaller day-to-day decisions (what should my next action be on a sales opportunity). In addition to this, the majority of companies in the present day use information systems that cannot process all of this data, let alone use it to predict and improve competitive positioning.
It doesn’t seem completely irrational to think that a world in the future could mirror a Minority Report level of artificial intelligence - one where algorithms evaluate multiple scenarios, data points, potential outcomes - and provide us with optimal actions to take. This next-level type of decision-making would undoubtedly offer competitive advantages to those willing to adapt:
Speed of Decision-Making - e.g. computing power would come to optimal decisions far quicker than humans alone. (Big data crunching)
Minimising Human Bias and Error - e.g. algorithms are not influenced by emotion and impulses in decision making.
Increasing the breadth of data considered - e.g. cross-analysis of data from markets, geopolitical, economic, currency headwinds, traditional and social media, amongst others.
Evaluating multiple “what if” scenarios.
Capitalising on previously unthought of market opportunities - e.g. entering new markets through technological disruption not thought of within the initial human field of thought or vertical integration strategies.
An interesting point to unravel is the dynamic between human-derived business acumen and the increased use of AI. Will the former be devalued with an increased faith put into AI for decision making? Posing the above question is not how it will play out in real-life - one will not simply replace the other. But it is an interesting point nonetheless.
An important consideration of comparing the two is the context. For example, algorithms are able to outperform humans inactive stock management, but the interpersonal communication skills required to negotiate and close a sales deal are secured through a human connection. Manufacturing process-level decisions are made by algorithms, but a human resource hiring decision is deeply influenced by a human connection.
For a human to acquire a high degree of business acumen, it requires years of education, nurturing, personal development, and on-the-job experience. This produces one human to various capability standards - and are often regularly replaced at a high cost. An artificial intelligence decision-making engine learns and adapts at a rate, speed and scale like no human can. In the future, a harmony between the two will become the apex for decision-making. An MBA educated individual required for the interpersonal, motivation, leadership and day-to-day management, that is equipped with a cutting edge artificial intelligence system.
Here are some simple examples where AI can be utilised in everyday decision-making:
Business Forecasting - analysing sales, booked revenue, currency fluctuations, market volatility data to show future financial performance predictions and recommended actions to take now for the desired outcome.
Sales Management - using sales data, contact information, historical sales data, like-for-like comparisons, and social media data for recommended next steps to progress a sales deal opportunity.
Service Optimisation - using chatbots and linguistic analytics to manage customer service at scale, field service routing and optimising field personnel management.
Marketing and Image Processing - using AI-powered image recognition for ad placement decisions on social media.
We’re at a critical moment in time in the adaptation of artificial intelligence. If we want to bring this to the zenith of its potential, it will require a re-equipping with the latest technologies and addressing the culture of how people will use them - and using this entire process as a catalyst for positive change.
Powerful business AI processing tools making business better:
What's the next in our business evolution?
It's simple, we need to use the technology at our disposal, to do one thing - free us all up so that we focus on human to human interaction (H2H). Things like relationship-building, customer service, negotiation and 'partnerships' will be aspects of the highest importance. (notwithstanding they are important now, just means they will be more important in the future, and frankly - there's no excuse once AI takes care of all our data crunching.
Lastly, creativity - Creativity is proven not to shine through when people work under pressure constantly. I do believe we will be even more highly creative projects carried out, once AI and big data crunching are able to remove as much stress as possible from us.
We will rely more on these human attributes in the future:
Ingenuity (quality of being cleverly inventive or resourceful)
Adaptability (adapting to change without resistance)