Digital Business: As easy as AI BI CI
I tend to simplify. Perhaps over-simplify. Ask my 14-year-old daughter how often she hears “That’s really quite simple” to which she has to answer, “No, it’s not.” She’s probably right, however, given I’m older than her, I have a decent shot at being right. At least once. Perhaps it’s this time when considering just how simple all this new tech capability is in the digital business world. Really! Hear me out. (Stop rolling your eyes.)
Selling the Drama
I love the band LIVE. Their track “Selling the Drama” includes the verse,
I've willed, I've walked, I've read
I've talked, I know, I know,
I've been here before, yeah
Incredibly relevant to simplifying things (and my posts). Mantra: It’s been done before despite all the new talk.
Hype seems to surround tech advances these days more than ever. I think the Gartner Hype Cycle should reflect a MUCH steeper and MUCH higher front end to the peak of inflated expectations. The Hype Cycle is a great litmus test for the “fake news” of how AI / blockchain / (substitute new tech here) is going to solve all problems, take all jobs, get absolutely anyone elected to President. The BOTs have arrived, People. Ask them to take you to their leader. Who is that? Amazon? Google? Facebook? Apple? All plausible candidates. Perhaps look for whoever is SCL’s (Cambridge Analytica’s parent) next big client. Not sure what that last reference is about? Conversation for another day / post.
Back to topic. Simplicity in the face of tech hype. Gartner was already mapping the transformation of business in 2014 due to the “Nexus of Forces” (SMCI – social, mobile, cloud and information). 2014, that’s so long ago right? Have those elements been replaced now by BOTs, AR (augmented reality), ICO’s and Thinking Machines? Yes, the acronym would be BAIT. Wonder why? Simplified view (an opinion with which you are free to disagree – please do) is that no, the big trends of SMIC are still the major trends. They have spawned new focus elements (BAIT are examples) and will continue to do so at speed. Probably almost as fast as the changing value of Bitcoin. Is it really that difficult to stay up to speed and leverage the new opportunities in these and other trending technologies? Again, no. Not when you can over-simply as I do. Hence the easy as Ai, Bi, Ci.
Easy as AI, BI, CI
Any reading (meaning YouTube search) on AI will point you to the fact that AI has been around for a long time. Like more than a year! (That’s my Daughter’s comment.) The flood of exposure in the media and online platforms is just a reflection that the tech has found its way into (early) easy to try / use formats. Google, Microsoft and Amazon all have incredibly capable variants that are made available for use through UI driven configurations. Yes, UI driven. Fill in the boxes, point to data, submit. Watch machine do smart things. The end is nigh. Except not. ML has been around for a long time. The algorithms were just tough to create, needed huge processing power and required stuff the rest of us mortals avoided: math and stats. Yuck. But now that’s hidden behind a nice shiny wrapper of cloud computing and add-ons (billable). So, we now all have access to do smart analysis and use correlation. However, what to do with that new hammer? Are you looking for a nail or do you have one? Other aspects of AI similarly are becoming incorporated easily into process/applications. As examples NLP (natural language processing) is ubiquitous (just ask your smartphone) and available as a service for incorporation into your business processes (think online support chat by BOT). More? Computer vision and robotics in warehouses (ask Amazon), Ad targeting in Facebook and Google, AR apps on the App Store. All too simple?
Business Intelligence (BI) similarly has been a part of the corporate landscape forever. At least as long as Internet Dinosaurs like myself remember (I am a fossil in current Internet age terms). The accelerator these days is that the tech has moved the capability from the IT department (“give me a report please IT”) into the hands of the business users (“I’ll do it myself thanks with Excel / Power BI etc.”). Fantastic. Faster, better, mobile, more. Bad decisions made with confidence based on bad data. Damn. Thought that does point out the new role for IT in partnership with Business: effective Data Stewardship and Data Strategy. Modern BI capability is available via instant online subscription and comes with immediately available AI links by the way. Imagine that. Challenge is, as before, do you know the right questions to be asking of this new analytical wonder? Do you have the data you need? Is that data complete, accurate and secure?
CI (Continuous improvement) is my last pick in justifying my “it’s all easy in digital” throwaway statement. With links to six sigma and subsequent variations, the change in accessibility and capability nowadays is absolutely stunning. You can learn about CI in bite sizes of your choice on YouTube. Enough to understand what it is and… plug into a platform that will do the work for you and present the analysis in pretty pictures. Dinosaur-day processing constraints that necessitated sampling data (n=20 right?) are gone. We have scalable cloud processing and storage. Just process ALL the data. Now. No sample. Technique of analysis: leave it to the machine to find the best statistical fit. What was your hypothesis again? That’s probably still the most important question. Also, the human element that requires some creativity and intuition to get to an analysis that will deliver value faster. If you always do what you have always done, expect similar results (until someone eats your lunch). If you leverage CI, you seek improvement, innovation, revolution and becoming the moving target. Just move fast. Remember Bitcoin.
Value (forget the rest, read this)
Hype is greater than ever surrounding new tech and its progression. The speed and seemingly SCI-FI type new capabilities (Googles AlphaGo) astound on a daily basis. Despite the new acronyms (we in IT and Consulting make a living out of those), the new things really are just old things made easier. That’s good news. AI, BI and CI are phenomenal levers to apply in your world (business or otherwise). Their ability to help drive innovation, improvement and revolution are limited only by their maturity (check the Hype Cycles please) and the creativity of us simple users. Start your process with the simple question “What value can I deliver and where is the opportunity to find that value?” (Don’t tell the machines this. It’s our secret advantage given we can actually answer that question.)
We all got a lot smarter, faster and capable thanks to first knowing our ABC’s and now our Ai’s, Bi’s and Ci’s. Need a plan of attack for what to do next? See my next post or check YouTube. It’s probably there already in a perfect 2’35” clip by some BOT that just parsed this post. But then you already knew that given you had SIRI find and read this article to you, right?