There’s been a lot of controversy over robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence. The concern is that the technologies could put millions out of work, and not just people in clerical or blue collar jobs. White collar jobs are also at risk for disruption.
When some doctors, lawyers, and other professionals have been replaced, why assume experts in business intelligence might be spared? But there’s a flip side: BI without AI could be in even bigger danger.
The problem is the great limitations that exist in BI today. Some years ago, David Drai was the CTO of a large tech company. One day he noticed a big sales drop in an important market. The company jumped onto the problem and found a solution, but left Drai wondering why, with all the investment the company had made into BI, there hadn’t been any warning.
The frustrating truth was that, apart from someone having miraculously stumbled upon the issue earlier, we were doomed to lose money that day. Simply put, the BI and analytics tools we were using were slow, reactive, and ultimately not very good at anything other than visualizing data. And while a graph certainly makes it easier to see patterns, it became clear that all our solutions were incredibly limited. This led us to the very difficult realization that the $16.9 billion BI industry is full of companies that aren’t all that intelligent and, in many cases, are actually making us dumber and slower.
Having the best in tools can be marvelous. But without the necessary processes and support, they can be next to useless. This is similar to the problem with information security systems and tools. Advanced software will log attempts at breaking into servers and networks. However, rarely does someone have the time to read through all the logs of activity that might provide a heads-up of a concerted effort to break in.
This is one example of where AI could play an important role in BI. Why not have intelligent systems pour over more data than any person could reasonably examine and find the patterns? The more executives can identify good and bad deviations from the norm, the more quickly they can react to changes in the business and take necessary action.
This doesn’t mean AI will eliminate the jobs of everyone involved in BI. What it can do is the work that no one has the time for even now. By doing so, companies will see much stronger benefits in BI and be more inclined to further invest time and effort — creating more jobs in the field as a result. This is a case where AI is good for job security.
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