Rarely since Jean-Claude van Damme’s Oscar-snubbed 1989 thriller have we been faced with a more realistic depiction of humankind blended with machine. Much in the way that Cyborg portrayed futuristic soldiers imbued with mechanically enhanced limbs, today’s augmented analytics platforms seek to fortify time-tested business knowledge and a healthy curiosity with seemingly super-human abilities to explore, process, and act upon business data.

Perhaps we’re experiencing a classic case of “life imitating art,” or perhaps this is the natural progression of a mature technology (traditional Business Intelligence) evolving out of Darwinian necessity. Either way, the rapid innovation in analytics technology combined with a genuine sense of realistic optimism in the hearts and minds of those who would use this technology have led to a clearer understanding of its usefulness in a business environment.

According to Aberdeen’s research, companies today are more likely to view technologies under the umbrella of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning as “mission critical” than they are to see it in the category of van Damme-esque science fiction (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Sentiment Toward AI Slants in the Positive

In a concerted effort not to get overly bogged down in crippling semantics, Aberdeen’s research explored the use of multiple technologies often considered in the portfolio of augmented analytics capabilities. The research shows that 46% of companies are currently using some form of these capabilities, including:

  • Enhanced search-based analytics
  • Machine learning algorithms
  • Natural language processing (NLP)
  • Speech-to-text / text-to-speech
  • Natural language generation (NLG)

There are a few different schools of thought on where augmented analytics will have the most impact. Some feel that the most technically sophisticated and data-savvy employees will benefit the most by allowing for incredibly sophisticated algorithms applied to immense data sets to create truly innovative analyses and insights. Others feel that the bionic brain analogy is more applicable to the every day mortal human vying for a competitive advantage by sifting through piles of data, primarily armed with relevant business knowledge and experience. Through that lens, the research demonstrates how companies that have invested in augmented analytics capabilities are enjoying an elevated sense of user satisfaction in several key areas of their decision process (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Driving Internal and External Efficiency

The performance benefits however aren’t limited to just anecdotal sentiment. The usage of augmented analytics also correlates, rather demonstrably, with enhanced business performance as well. According to the research, those companies invested in augmented analytics experience:

  • 23% greater year-over-year increase in operation profit
  • 31% greater year-over-year improvement in employee retention
  • 35% greater year-over-year increase in total customers

Once upon a time, business decision makers made business decisions based on metrics that were presented to them in reports and dashboards created by someone else. The more time that passed between the original creation of those dashboards and the decisions being made in the present tense, the less alignment between the intended question and the answer rendered.

Done right, augmented analytics is designed to extend the analytic firepower of the traditional business mind beyond the traditional static view — translating human questions into machine queries, assisting in the interpretation of results, and helping inspire an entirely new set of questions to ask.

When a majority of companies start to experience the impact of assisted thought and action, we’ll know that we’ve reached Jean-Claude van Damme territory and the Cyborg brain is officially ready for prime time.

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