Dr. Lorien Pratt was a featured speaker at Tech12 in Tel Aviv on July 2022. The guest post below is adapted from her talk.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, investor, or CIO, knowing what’s around the corner in terms of next-generation technology is essential to your work. This post is about an important future technology in the world of analytics called decision intelligence. This important new discipline is reshaping the business world, as well as our collective future in the 21st century.
Gartner describes decision intelligence as “a practical domain framing a wide range of decision-making techniques,” including “decision management,” “decision support,” and “descriptive diagnostics and predictive analytics.”
Here’s what that means: Decision intelligence takes artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to the next level by linking those technologies with human decisions and desired business outcomes. What’s particularly exciting about decision intelligence is that it allows non-data scientists to use these powerful tools.
In my book Link, I ask the question: Why aren’t the most powerful technologies being used to solve the most important problems: hunger, poverty, conflict, inequality, employment, democracy, disease, and new complexities faced by businesses? Part of the answer is that, for years, a gap has existed between data scientists and everyday users — employees, stakeholders, and organizational leaders.
To create decision intelligence, I interviewed thousands of people, many of whom told me that “technology is solving problems, but it is not solving problems in the ways that we need.” In particular, decision-makers use only a fraction of the data available to them as a direct result of this “data gap.”
What’s missing is democratization, which is made possible by decision intelligence. Decision intelligence enables all of us to use powerful data, analytics, and AI tools in accessible ways. It’s why decision intelligence is growing to become a more than $16 billion market by 2027, according to a July 2022 360iResearch report.
This transformation is similar in scope to the shift of computer technology from back rooms to our desktops, and then into our pockets. And it’s just as critical — it can close the gap between how AI and analytics are used today. Decision intelligence can break down the barriers between data “back rooms” and our everyday decisions and outcomes.
But ML is limited to predictions and classifications: it doesn’t bridge to how most people think, which is in terms of actions that lead to outcomes they wish to achieve. Machine learning stops short of supporting decisive actions and outcomes. That support is what we need to solve the world’s most challenging problems.
Decision intelligence technologies leverage ML to bridge that gap between data “back rooms” and decision-makers. They align these powerful tools with practical decisions and outcomes. Best of all, decision intelligence gives us a roadmap to solving the world’s greatest unsolved problems — inequality, global conflict, COVID-19, climate, and business challenges, among others.
Whether we are working on strategic, tactical, or operational decisions, decision intelligence augments our decisions with insights to yield the best possible results. For example, when I caught COVID-19 in early 2020, I created an agent-based simulation that tracks how people move through physical spaces. The simulation uses computational fluid dynamics, which helps us to understand how virus particles move through that space.
Decision intelligence helps me use the vast amount of data this simulation produces. I can make observations, followed by practical, accurate decisions that, if applied, could prevent countless people from getting sick.
This decision-making power isn’t isolated to this single case. We can apply these same principles to complex challenges concerning business, equity, the environment, and beyond.
If you’re ready to begin with decision intelligence, don’t begin with your data. Start by thinking about the decisions you wish to make using that data, in particular the business outcomes you wish to achieve.
Consider any preexisting investment in analytics at your organization. You can maximize ROI from your existing resources by focusing on the data that supports those decisions and de-emphasizing governance of data that is not required for decision-making.
Again, start by focusing on decisions, actions, and outcomes, then “work in” your data after the fact. Your efforts to manage that data will be much more efficient than they have been with past data technologies.
Or if you have existing investments in the data, ask yourself how you can maximize your investment in analytics by focusing on the data you need to support your key decisions.
Finally, keep a close watch over the fast-changing decision intelligence vendor market. There are dozens of emerging vendors in this space. Pyramid Analytics continues to be among my favorites.
According to chess Grand Master Gary Kasparov, who is also a global democracy leader and human rights activist, “Future conflicts will not be won by the force with the highest computing power, most advanced chip design, or best tactical training, but by the force that most successfully employs novel algorithms to augment human decision-making.” Let’s run simulations, democratize data access, and make accessible the great computing power decision intelligence provides to augment human intelligence and drive decisions and outcomes, and deliver those promised victories.
Dr. Lorien Pratt is the Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Quantellia LLC, a leading provider of Decision Intelligence software and services. She is a co-inventor of Decision Intelligence and the author of Link: How Decision Intelligence Connects Data, Actions, and Outcomes for a Better World. Through Quantellia, Dr. Pratt teaches a “Getting Started with Decision Intelligence” course that is available for registration.