• Autopilot on Big Data

    Posted on November 11, 2013 by in Business Process Management


    You were enjoying that beautiful day out in the wild, that is, until the moment your GPS receiver failed and your smartphone run out of battery. Fortunately you were together with a seasoned ex-SAS friend, who learned to use the stars for direction and Morse-code to send out messages…

    Have you ever thought how much you rely on automation in your daily life? I was triggered by an article in one of our major newspapers (NRC Handelsblad) last Saturday. It reads: “Automation is fine, but where do we go when it fails.” A question Nicholas Carr asked himself. Planes crash when, in an emergency, the pilot suddenly needs to go manual. We haven’t the foggiest where we are when the GPS can’t receive its signals anymore. Decision making seems to become impossible when our Business Intelligence software fails.

    Somehow we ended up in an era where we blindly rely on that magic world, named automation. Trees in the park almost look as real in the game we just played. We believe in the answers of Google. We believe in autopilot. There is more data than ever. We even have a name for it nowadays. Automation makes more decisions for us then ever. Business Intelligence. We simply have become viewers rather than participants. All very human.

    Big Data

    Big Data is not just a trend, it’s really out there, whatever definition you want to use. We integrate more systems than ever. Smarter and more complex decision algorithms are being developed as we speak. Why would we ever rely on human experience? Of course a sensor, radar or decision algorithm is way quicker than we are. But as humans, a sensor or algorithm will sometimes fail. Oh, but when that happens, we fortunately still can finger point to the companies who supplied us with it. Responsibility seems something of the past and as such has eroded…

    What about BPM?

    We know that  understanding our business processes can make a competitive difference. And they really can. So why are we so lax in managing them? Or is it perhaps the way we manage them: Technology oriented only, in order to support that ERP implementation or compliance project. When all is done we simply rely on the data we have captured. Until something goes wrong.

    So, back to the human experience. Carr makes you think: Why do we not include a learning component in our systems that actually help us rather than create thoughtless zombies out of us? Well, because it seems that this doesn’t really fit the purely economic trend of wanting more for less. Humans are expensive, as learning something simply costs too much. Hail modern world?