Guiding Automation with Embedded Predictive Analytics

Intelligent automation is creating productivity increases rivaled only by industrial revolutions of generations past.


Intelligent automation is ubiquitous across industries, creating robust productivity increases rivaled only by industrial revolutions of generations past. Software development and its applications keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, including predictive analytics’ ability to drive decision-making at every level of an enterprise.

How this evolving computing power will be applied in years to come and where all its potential will steer the world are questions we need to be asking ourselves. The answers used responsibly will ensure that the benefits of artificial intelligence, intelligent automation, and machine learning will span the globe and lift society. Likewise, those answers will help to guide us and avoid disadvantages that would limit promise or, quite possibly, bring harm.

Modern Industrial Revolution

Viewed from within, we appear to be amidst a fourth Industrial Revolution. Mechanization ushered in the original revolution, while electricity and mass production brought us the second. Electronics and digitization thrust us into the third.

Now, the technological transformation and, more precisely today, the speed and scope at which digital technology is being applied is unrivaled. And there’s no indication of imminent slowing.

Historical leaps of the past advanced manufacturing and production, with quality of life a direct benefit. Current advancements are doing this while also transforming knowledge, governments, and even manifesting quasi-governments out of the most successful global businesses.

Any business can connect at the speed of light to billions of people around the world, just as virtually everyone can now connect to one another from nearly anywhere. The possibilities where this information-sharing may lead seem endless. So, too, are the options that AI, the Internet of Things, quantum computing, and other evolving technology will take us.

Predictive modeling forecasts the journey of technological intelligence will lead to exactly where we tell it, based on what we ask of it. So business, technology, and other intelligence experts must be charged with challenging assumptions and share their wisdom candidly when considering the implications of this fourth revolution. Doing this will ensure that our technologies serve society positively, not just profitably.

The Power of Predictive

Effectively, we should apply characteristics like those in predictive analytics to the advancement of computer intelligence and its application.

Predictive analytics looks for connections and relationships from within multiple data sets, analyzes the information, and predicts future outcomes through AI, ML, and predictive algorithms. This helps reveal trends and serves as a catalyst for new discoveries and actionable decisions. Rather than people sifting through immense amounts of data–indeed more than is humanly possible–software is leveraged to offer outcomes for decisions determined by what the data show.

People must be the ones making the judgment call, and they must have that say from a position that allows for success.

Consider this scenario; an extreme one for clarity:

A computer-controlled passenger plane suffers a system failure. It is faced with deciding to land or ditch the craft on a busy roadway, vacant property, a populated beach, or a distant runway. Safety, property, and casualty considerations must be factored into the final decision, not only those directly affecting the pilot, passengers, crew, and plane but also bystanders, structures, and other circumstances below.

Should the pilot be provided control only at the last instant, when the airplane’s software has been unable to resolve this dilemma and when the only choices in the millisecond that remains are bad or catastrophic? Should the airplane’s software be making decisions affecting people and property who had no association with the aircraft until this moment?

Predictive and augmented analytics use AI and ML to aid decision-making and improve human ability to analyze vast amounts of information. They are incredibly effective tools. Yet there are moral and legal judgments in decision-making that must be addressed before we find ourselves relying upon computer intelligence in untenable positions.

There are two paths before us. Industry can proactively drive open discussions on these issues, involve broad participation, and adopt recommendations, or it can await legislation to play catch-up and see where that leads. Engaging in a digital arms race without creating the first alternative will have us facing unknown results brought on by the latter. Responsibly addressing issues in an environment ripe for critical analysis is more valuable than facing reactionary processes intent on assigning blame and negatively affecting reputation.

People will always be better than computers at some tasks, just as AI, ML and other software should be expected to continually enhance our capabilities. For example, predictive and augmented analytics boost our ability to analyze information and deliver this to every level of an organization so powerfully that individuals can elevate their performance regardless of whether they are adept at using technology or not.

Where we allow tools to automate decisions, people must be involved in setting boundaries so that moral and ethical judgments remain in our control, not turned over to machines that are limited in their understanding of emotion, moods, human relationships, and repercussions. 

Dialogue Starts Now

Make no mistake, the current industrial revolution has been a boon to businesses, people, and nations alike the world over. Rapidly evolving AI, ML and other technologies have fundamentally and beneficially changed the way people live and work.

Our ability to gather, store, retrieve and analyze information grows exponentially to serve its users, whether expert or novice at technology. In business, this means efficiency and productivity have never been better. Across industries, we’re applying analytics to leverage intelligence that identifies and reduces fraud and risks, improves healthcare, improves security, manages supply chains, delivers keen insight into consumer behavior and so much more.

Now let’s apply our combined knowledge and talents to positively affect the broader influence that intelligence technology will have on people worldwide. Assuredly, proactively working on frameworks that serve societal benefits will impact business outcomes positively. Powerful tools created during this revolution that affect business decisions must also enable us to become better people.