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Highlights from October APC Meeting

October 11, 2018

 

At the recent October meeting of the Advanced Practices Council (APC), the theme of disruption to gain business value was evident in many presentations and discussions. Technical ways to disrupt industries and competition were discussed and illustrated. But the people behind the technology - thinking differently about analytics, changing their mindsets about working across boundaries in ecosystems, thinking differently about the problem that needs solving, considering how the solution will be integrated into the workflow, and organizing the work and its environment - seemed to underlie it all. We won't accomplish much without skillfully managing change. 

 

HARNESSING THE HIDDEN POWER OF PSYCHOGRAPHIC PROFILING

Michael Wade, IMD Professor of Innovation and Strategy, walked us through the 2016 U.S. presidential election, making the case that a key determinant of Trump's success was the campaign's use of behavioral analytics and psychographic profiling. Going well beyond traditional demographic analytics, the campaign targeted different social media messages depending upon people's interests and personality types (gauged through their "likes" on Facebook). Wade then presented examples of companies, such as Dollar Shave Club, that use psychographic profiling to gain significant business value. He pointed out that such profiling opens up a whole new world of possibilities for digital stakeholder engagement and urged APC members to explore how such thinking and analysis can help their organizations before competitors catch up.

 

MAKING ENTERPRISE BLOCKCHAINS REAL

Blockchains are high on the technology hype curve because they promise a significant amount of business value: transacting directly with trading partners; eliminating the need for reconciliations; instantly tracking and tracing assets; providing data provenance; settling transactions quickly and cheaply; and enabling a security model that is fault tolerant, resilient and available. Mary Lacity, Professor at the University of Arkansas, discovered that only about 5 to 10% of the over 1,000 blockchain application proofs-of-concept had progressed to production by early 2018. Although technology challenges must be overcome, she emphasized that people's mindshifts are the biggest hurdle. Those mindshifts include: moving from command and control to shared governance; shifting from data residency within the enterprise to data residency on other enterprises' nodes; converting mutable data into immutable data; having agreements managed by computer logic instead of by people; transacting directly with trading partners instead of through trusted third parties; and using open source code instead of proprietary code.

 

COGNITIVE COMPUTING: THE MYTHS AND REALITIES OF AI

Since computers capture everything about the world that can be metered or monitored, about 2.5 zetabytes of data are produced every day. How are businesses leveraging that data for business value? Like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) is high on the technology hype curve, according to Kristian Hammond, Professor at Northwestern University, who has been studying AI for over 25 years and has seen a rapid proliferation of at least some types of AI applications. Growth is driven by rapidly increasing data as well as analytics, with machine learning at the fore of most applications. He portrayed eight types of machine learning in one graphic (below): deep learning, evidence-based reasoning, statistical machine learning, text analysis, robotic process automation, chat/conversational interfaces, natural language generation, and recommendation systems. After presenting examples of each type, Hammond urged APC members to focus on the business (what is the task, what is the state of the data, what is the scale of the problem) and ensure that there are massive sets of clean data before creating applications expected to reap business value.  

 

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE OF WORK

George Westerman, Principal Research Scientist at MIT, presented multiple statistical analyses that lead to several conclusions. Routine work is being destroyed. There is a wage premium for jobs that use computers as well as such higher-order skills as supervision, initiative, math, and teaching. Robots and other forms of automation have killed jobs and will continue to do so. Westerman believes that IT functions can help their firms prepare for the future of work in several ways. IT can help the human resources function by providing analytics that highlight training programs that don't result in performance improvement and should be eliminated as well as by finding new labor sources such as gig workers. IT can initiate work redesign so that workers complement robots and augmented reality helps workers improve performance. Opportunities extend well beyond traditional corporations. doctHERs, a Pakistani program, allows women physicians not allowed to work outside their homes to conduct video consultations needed in remote locations throughout the country.

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