Preparing for the Era of Intelligent Machines
As many of you know, I’ve been spending time thinking about the evolution of the “content” space, and its roots in the intersection of the triad of people, processes, and technology. I’m starting to think that there maybe is a 4th player in this intersection – Machines – but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. More about that later.
As I think back to my early years at AIIM, I entered the organization during the era of Document Management and Workflow, with the following “people, process and technology” characteristics.
Somewhere around the turn of the century, the industry pivoted into the Enterprise Content Management era, changing our “people, process, and technology” triad:
And most recently, we’ve moved into the Mobile and Cloud era, once again changing our triad.
So before moving on to what comes next, a couple of observations about these three eras:
- Technologies exist in beta long before large companies put them into practice. This means that even though it seems we have no idea what will come next, we really do given the lag between consumer technologies and large-scale enterprise adoption. That’s a good thing, because if we want to understand what’s coming, all we really need to do is look around.
- Successive eras don’t replace what came before – they are stacked on top of what came previously. This is not such a good thing, although it is a pretty good rationale for having some Information Professionals in your organization. Check out our new white paper (free), Information Professionals: Where We Came From and Where We’re Going.
- These – and successive eras – are coming at organizations faster and faster. This is a recipe for information chaos in most organizations as they struggle with not only keeping the lights on, but anticipating and preparing for what comes next.
Combining the three layers of content capabilities – 1) Document Management and Workflow; 2) Enterprise Content Management; and 3) Mobile and Cloud – to create new and rich customer experiences that allow you to get ahead of the Digital Transformation curve is the current strategic imperative for the C-suite. And this is no mean feat.
But looking a bit ahead, I find myself thinking about another huge coming change. Going back to my point 1 above -- Technologies exist in beta long before large companies put them into practice – maybe if we look around a bit in the broader technology space, maybe we can get a glimpse into the next wave. And in thinking about this, I’m pretty convinced that in the next wave, we’re going to need to add a fourth party to our triad – Machines.
Ever since I read some of the work of Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee about the impact of Moore’s Law in the second half of the technology chessboard (check out Race Against the Machine if you don’t know what I’m talking about), I’ve been fascinated with the question of what happens when tasks that were previously beyond the reach of computers suddenly become feasible. What happens when we get to the second half of the chessboard?
In preparing for some recent meetings with the folks at Adlib Software and Precision Content, I came across this presentation by Frank Chen from Andreessen Horowitz on AI, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning: A Primer. It’s well worth a look; the 45 minutes goes by quickly. He talks about radical advances in machine intelligence like a computer that can play a 19 x 19 version of the game of GO, a game with a google times more potential moves than chess. And a fellow who invented a working driverless car in his garage.
Frank talks about six dimensions of machine intelligence that are in the process of radical innovation and disruption, the likes of which we've never seen before.
- Planning and navigation
- Natural language processing
- Knowledge representation
- Generalized intelligence
Which gets me back to content and information management. As I said, combining the three layers of content capabilities – 1) Document Management and Workflow; 2) Enterprise Content Management; and 3) Mobile and Cloud – to create new and rich customer experiences that allow you to get ahead of the Digital Transformation curve is the current strategic imperative for the C-suite.
Organizations have a critical and immediate need to organize all the “stuff” from the document, web, and mobile/cloud era, automate as much of this task as possible, extract as much value from it as possible, and utilize this “stuff” to create customer experiences.
But just beyond this immediate challenge lies another one – and an enormous opportunity. And one that I think takes a lot of the generic and hype-driven conversation about "big data" and "analytics" -- which frankly always seems like a bit of a stretch for content-y people -- and brings information, how it is managed and organization, and the people who know how to do this -- squarely into the central challenge that lies ahead.
In the era of machine processing that is coming, what would it mean to be able to express your business value in ones and zeros?
It means content and information, a lot of it, organized in ways we have never done before.
It means how content is created NOW will have a direct bearing on how “machine processable” it ultimately will be in the future.
Is anyone in your organization thinking about how you will approach this task?
More to come on this...What are your thoughts?
If this conversation piques your interest, you might be interested in two content resources:
A tip sheet by me -- 3 questions to ask about content creation
A white paper underwritten by Precision Content -- Innovating Content Creation and Reuse