In the 1967 film "The Graduate," a savvy businessman tells Dustin Hoffman's character that he should pursue a career in plastics. That was probably good advice in 1967. If a savvy business person were to give advice to a graduate today, it would be to pursue a career in data. Data, whether generated internally as a byproduct of creating products and delivering services or acquired from other sources, are a key source - along with newer hardware and software - of competitive advantage.
Powerful machine-learning algorithms that adapt through experience and evolve in intelligence with exposure to data are driving changes in businesses that would have been impossible to imagine just five years ago. As a result of machine learning, foot bridges over Amsterdam canals are created on 3D printers, a major canned food firm has significantly reduced the number of pounds of peaches it needs to fill cans, Coca Cola Hellenic's truck fleet reduced its forward collisions by 50% and lane departure incidents by 80%, Jack Threats has realized an 8X return on investment in fraud detection, SurveyMonkey cut the invoicing process time by one third, and Numerate identified compounds more effective against HIV in only 6 months compared to 10 years previously.
Allan Alter of Accenture Institute for High Performance recently presented to our members at one of the Advanced Practices Council meetings. He not only shared examples of improving processes and creating new capabilities through machine learning, but also explored such challenges as augmenting people vs. eliminating them and, in the process, rewarding them appropriately.
How will today's jobs be transformed and what new jobs will emerge? How can we as IT executives influence the answers?