Humans only as designers?


In a recent LinkedIn blog post “Bots, AI and the Next 40 Months”, Kevin Benedic said the following:

Software robots (or “bots”) can be developed to analyze vast quantities of data without getting bored, make decisions based on codified decision trees that humans design, and then act in milliseconds.

For many centuries, businessmen – as the producers of mass-market products and services –  engaged themselves in every aspect of the Innovation Cycle: Data-gathering, Definition, and DecisionThey gathered data samples. Then, they analyzed the data – first, to define a problem and then, to arrive at a solution for the defined problem. For every variant of the problem, they repeated this process again and again. All that is about to change and humans are likely to retain only the designing part of the innovation cycle while outsourcing the rest to the Artificial Intelligence!

DATA GATHERING: Traditional surveys have become obsolete, it’s the world of Big Data – this aspect of the innovation cycle has already been altered in the past decade. The era of Big Data has rendered traditional surveys redundant! Putting together a survey and defining a sample is now a skill-set of the past when products and services were mass-market oriented. Managers tried to infer the characteristics of the mass audience (the universe) based on a statistical sample.

Today, data is gathered (sucked?) “automatically” from millions of connected user touch-points. Products with adaptive designs seek to cater to an individual users defined by a query designed to parse the Big Data!

DEFINITION OF CONSUMER NEEDS: Pre-defining the end-user need is replaced by the designing of the adaptive platforms I was probably one of the last generations of business students who were taught that accurately anticipating and defining user problem was the key to successful marketing. No more! 

Greater computing power and connectivity in the consumer devices has helped design products that morph according to the end-user’s need. The focus, now, is on designing adaptive product platforms to address multiple user- defined problem! Today’s products increasingly behave like, what the previous generations called,  platforms. 

Compare today’s wrist watches with the ones we used in the past century or more. Today’s watches nudge you to get up and exercise, let you chat, give you directions, suggest you a restaurant, and  report your heart rate. Even the most expensive of the past generation wrist watches won’t let you do anything except telling you the time!

DECISION: Making product intelligent to reduce decision burden. In the early modern times, businesses spent several cycles guessing consumer problems and making decisions for them (and then spend millions of advertising dollars to convince consumers that the decisions they made for the consumers was an ideal one)! In mid-modern era, with greater computing power and connectivity in the consumer devices, producers are using user data to create adaptive “platform” products and services. The future late-modern era will be defined by AI! Consumer devices would be intelligent enough to reduce the decision burden on the user to bare minimum. Businesses would design and embed codified decision trees to eliminate the”overhead” of  intermediary decisions that the consumer does not need to take in order to satisfy his or her needs. An autonomous car, for example, can pickup the destination from your calendar, decide itself which route to take based on the traffic data, and if you are late, can notify your meeting invitees your new ETA. Codified decision trees are the new intel inside of tomorrow’s world.

Humans as the Designers?  Well then, tomorrow’s entrepreneur will design algorithms to parse the Big Data, come up with an adaptive product design that will meet multiple end-user needs and make the consumer gratification easy by embedding the codified decision tree designs in the products! So, have we, the humans, arrived at our final destination of being just the designers?

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