We, humans, overwhelmed with the sea of data that machines identify and produce for us, we intensely focus but have a hard time seeing, even when the thing is right within proximity.

There has been quite the AI and big data analytics hype all over the media—pick one! I am not interested in adding any more hype to the subject.

By-the way, these things have been going on well over two decades. Laggards are just beginning to notice because of the flywheel effect of these things—laggards are always shocked.

Everyone talks about these things these days. A client, buried in the data tsunami, asked me about my thoughts on the reason for the explosion in AI and data analytics. I paused for a moment.

Sure, I could have said the same thing every other consultant says (I didn’t): “Well, it’s of course social media, the advances in technology…and let me talk about globalization for a short two hours…this…that.” Maybe, I could have sound as if I knew the answers. But none of that counts in the end, except the real root-cause(s). Perhaps, it’s obvious, and we can’t see it.

Well, it happens to all of us. Has it happened to you?

I’ll take, for example, my big furniture-building project. I took a tool, placed it on the counter top, got distracted by some “secret” squirrel, and when I got back to my senses (to the thing I was supposed to do), I could no longer find the tool.

Since I am one of those persistence-is-success type of person, I worked harder. Still, I could not find it. I intensely looked for it but could not see it—not until my wife pointed it was right in front of me, between the other tools (on the counter where I left it).

The same can be said about the intersection of data and human interaction. We, humans, overwhelmed with the sea of data that machines identify and produce for us, we intensely focus but have a hard time seeing, even when the thing is right within proximity.

There is little doubt that data analytics has transformed how many do business today. Although it would be easy to believe technology is the main core driver, the real driver is the transformation of human life in this century.

Futurist Edward Cornish [1], writing about the great transformation in the world, highlighted that the most important thing happening today is the global transformation of life. This transformation of life has been the core driver in the explosion of big data analytics, to include AI and other technologies. The game is not just about reliability engineering or optimization. We have taken data to other frontiers.

Take for example the instances depicted by computer scientist V. Rajamaran [2]: predicting whether one’s train ticket wait-list number will be confirmed, matching couples in marriage and their success rates, introducing new coffee into the market, elections, public utilities, and the way people communicate peer-to-peer and peer-to-cloud.

Today, citizens also demand quality in the services they get from their cities and the environment they live in. RAND, for example, reported on a community that invested in wearable sensor technology for its citizens. Pulling from the data of those sensors, city leaders begin to make data-driven decisions to monitor and improve air quality [3]. All of those examples speak to the transformation of life driving the need for big data analytics and other emerging technologies.

This transformation of life will drive data analytics and technologies into solving problems people face every day, to improve urban life. One of those problems is, for example, traffic congestions in cities. Using quantum computers and data from one of the most congested cities in the world (Beijing), researchers were able to predict and solve the congestion problem—done in under a second…a normal, advanced computer would have taken at least 45 minutes [4].

The experiment above was an application of advanced technology and analytics to solve human problems. We will see much more of that—we need to. Scholars and other scientists also highlight that cities and the healthcare industries will be more pressed than in the past to embrace new technologies to improve services and emergency response; big data and its associated technologies will play an important role in providing the innovative adaptive power of those technologies [5].

There you have it: The transformation of human life. Can you imagine how much more transformation needs to happen? Imagine what else you’ll see in the future. AI and big data analytics will be just primitive forms of what is yet to come.

Always motivated, lugo

References and notes:

[1]. Cornish, E. (2009). Futuring: The exploration of the future. Bethesda, MD: World Future Society.

[2]. Rajaraman, V. (2016). Big data analytics. Resonance, 695-715.

[3]. Yeung, D. & Cevallos, A. S. (2017, May 14). Using wearable fitness devices to monitor more than just fitness. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from https://www.rand.org/blog/2017/05/using-wearable-fitness-devices-to-monitor-more-than.html.

[4]. Warnock, L. (Producer). (2018, February 7). The age of quantum computing is (almost) here [Audio Podcast]. WSJ: The Future of Everything. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/podcasts/the-age-of-quantum-computing-is-almost-here/381FB9AC-4B65-4267-9E57-582889D3F716.html.

[5]. Mehmood, R., Meriton, R., Graham, G., Hennelly, P., & Kumar, M. (2017). Exploring the influence of big data on city transport operations: A markovian approach. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 37(1), 75-104.