There can be little doubt that digital disruption is upon us on a large scale. Entire industries and their business models, as well as society at large are being transformed by the impact of digital technologies.
To understand risks and opportunities, we need to look at how the following three forces are coming together to turn the winds of change into a perfect storm.
- An abundance of data providing raw material for insights
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics turning data into actionable insights, enabling automation and augmenting human intelligenc
- Cloud as a fundamental change to service delivery and service consumption, as well as an enabler of communities
Let’s look at data and AI first. Data has often been called the new oil, and more recently, AI is being compared to the new electricity. These are apt comparisons that describe how data is turned into insights that power business processes. We can distinguish three broad areas of application:
- Gaining insights from data to optimize the execution of business processes, be it through automation or through improved human decision making
- Improving the knowledge life cycle by curating knowledge and providing advisory tools, enabling subject matter experts to do their jobs better, faster and with greater consistency
- Enabling better, more human-like user interfaces to services, especially through natural language conversations.
These three areas are connected and can support each other. If handled badly, they compound problems. Currently, automation is most successful when applied to low-level tasks that need to be executed at speed and with consistency, like incident response and problem resolution in IT services. At this level, automation improves overall service levels while also allowing humans to focus on more complex situations. Advisory tools, on the other hand, clearly augment human intelligence, but their underlying algorithms warrant scrutiny to avoid bias. There is an ongoing important debate over how to reconcile the need for transparency and accountability with the desire to achieve a competitive advantage, and an increasing research focus on AI that explains itself. Finally, user interface technology like chatbots is making great strides, but in many situations, people still prefer to talk to humans, and chatbots need to know when to hand over to a person. […]