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How Behavioural Science usage can augment AI Adoption

3AI October 14, 2017

Today’s artificial intelligence (AI) revolution has been made possible by the algorithm revolution. The machine learning algorithms researchers have been developing for decades, when cleverly applied to today’s web-scale data sets, can yield surprisingly good forms of intelligence. For instance, the United States Postal Service has long used neural network models to automatically read handwritten zip code digits. Today’s deep learning neural networks can be trained on millions of electronic photographs to identify faces, and similar algorithms may increasingly be used to navigate automobiles and identify tumors in X-rays. The IBM Watson information retrieval system could triumph on the game show “Jeopardy!” partly because most human knowledge is now stored electronically.

But current AI technologies are a collection of big data-driven point solutions, and algorithms are reliable only to the extent that the data used to train them is complete and appropriate. One-off or unforeseen events that humans can navigate using common sense can lead algorithms to yield nonsensical outputs.

Design thinking is defined as human-centric design that builds upon the deep understanding of our users (e.g., their tendencies, propensities, inclinations, behaviours) to generate ideas, build prototypes, share what you’ve made, embrace the art of failure (i.e., fail fast but learn faster) and eventually put your innovative solution out into the world.  And fortunately for us humans (who really excel at human-centric things), there is a tight correlation between the design thinking and artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence technologies could reshape economies and societies, but more powerful algorithms do not automatically yield improved business or societal outcomes. Human-centered design thinking can help organizations get the most out of cognitive technologies.

Divergence from More Powerful Intelligence To More Creative Intelligence

While algorithms can automate many routine tasks, the narrow nature of data-driven AI implies that many other tasks will require human involvement. In such cases, algorithms should be viewed as cognitive tools capable of augmenting human capabilities and integrated into systems designed to go with the grain of human—and organizational—psychology. We don’t want to ascribe to AI algorithms more intelligence than is really there. They may be smarter than humans at certain tasks, but more generally we need to make sure algorithms are designed to help us, not do an end run around our common sense.

Design Thinking at Enterprise Premise

Although cognitive design thinking is in its early stages in many enterprises, the implications are evident. Eschewing versus embracing design thinking can mean the difference between failure and success. For example, a legacy company that believes photography hinges on printing photographs could falter compared to an internet startup that realizes many customers would prefer to share images online without making prints, and embraces technology that learns faces and automatically generates albums to enhance their experience.

To make design thinking meaningful for consumers, companies can benefit from carefully selecting use cases and the information they feed into AI technologies. In determining which available data is likely to generate desired results, enterprises can start by focusing on their individual problems and business cases, create cognitive centres of excellence, adopt common platforms to digest and analyze data, enforce strong data governance practices, and crowdsource ideas from employees and customers alike.

In assessing what constitutes proper algorithmic design, organizations may confront ethical quandaries that expose them to potential risk. Unintended algorithmic bias can lead to exclusionary and even discriminatory practices. For example, facial recognition software trained on insufficiently diverse data sets may be largely incapable of recognizing individuals with different skin tones. This could cause problems in predictive policing, and even lead to misidentification of crime suspects. If the training data sets aren’t really that diverse, any face that deviates too much from the established norm will be harder to detect. Accordingly, across many fields, we can start thinking about how we create more inclusive code and employ inclusive coding practices.

CXO Strategy for Cognitive Design Thinking

CIOs can introduce cognitive design thinking to their organizations by first determining how it can address problems that conventional technologies alone cannot solve. The technology works with the right use cases, data, and people, but demonstrating value is not always simple. However, once CIOs have proof points that show the value of cognitive design thinking, they can scale them up over time.

CIOs benefit from working with business stakeholders to identify sources of value. It is also important to involve end users in the design and conception of algorithms used to automate or augment cognitive tasks. Make sure people understand the premise of the model so they can pragmatically balance algorithm results with other information.

Enterprise Behavioral Science – From Insights to Influencing Business Decisions

Every January, how many people do you know say that they want to resolve to save more, spend less, eat better, or exercise more? These admirable goals are often proclaimed with the best of intentions, but are rarely achieved. If people were purely logical, we would all be the healthiest versions of ourselves.

However, the truth is that humans are not 100% rational; we are emotional creatures that are not always predictable. Behavioral economics evolved from this recognition of human irrationality. Behavioral economics is a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behavior to explain economic decision-making.

Decision making is one of the central activities of business – hundreds of billions of decisions are made everyday. Decision making sits at the heart of innovation, growth, and profitability, and is foundational to competitiveness. Despite this degree of importance, decision making is poorly understood, and badly supported by tools. A study by Bain & Company found that decision effectiveness is 95% correlated with companies’ financial performance.

Enterprise Behavioral Science is not only about understanding potential outcomes, but to completely change outcomes, and more specifically, change the way in which people behave. Behavioral Science tells us that to make a fundamental change in behavior that will affect the long-term outcome of a process, we must insert an inflection point.

As an example, you are a sales rep and two years ago your revenue was $1 million. Last year it was $1.1 million, and this year you expect $1.2 million in sales. The trend is clear, and your growth has been linear and predictable. However, there is a change in company leadership and your management has increased your quota to $2 million for next year. What is going to motivate you to almost double your revenues? The difference between expectations ($2 million) and reality ($1.2 million) is often referred to as the “behavioral gap” . When the behavioral gap is significant, an inflection point is needed to close that gap. The right incentive can initiate an inflection point and influence a change in behavior. Perhaps that incentive is an added bonus, President’s Club eligibility, a promotion, etc.

Cognitive Design Thinking – The New Indispensable Reskilling Avenue

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics and mobile and software development will be the top technology areas where the need for re-skilling will be the highest. India will need 700 million skilled workforce by 2022 to meet the demands of a growing economy. Hence, while there is a high probability that machine learning and artificial intelligence will play an important role in whatever job you hold in the future, there is one way to “future-proof” your career…embrace the power of design thinking.

In fact, integrating design thinking and artificial intelligence can give you “super powers” that future-proof whatever career you decide to pursue. To meld these two disciplines together, one must:

  • Understand where and how artificial intelligence and behavioural science can impact your business initiatives. While you won’t need to write machine learning algorithms, business leaders do need to learn how to “Think like a data scientist” in order understand how AI can optimize key operational processes, reduce security and regulatory risks, uncover new monetization opportunities.
  • Understand how design thinking techniques, concepts and tools can create a more compelling and emphatic user experience with a “delightful” user engagement through superior insights into your customers’ usage objectives, operating environment and impediments to success.

Design thinking is a mindset. IT firms are trying to move up the curve. Higher-end services that companies can charge more is to provide value and for that you need to know that end-customers needs. For example, to provide value services to banking customers is to find out what the bank’s customer needs are in that country the banking client is based. Latent needs come from a design thinking philosophy where you observe customer data, patterns and provide a solution that the customer does not know. Therefore, Companies will hire design thinkers as they can predict what the consumer does not know and hence charge for the product/service from their clients. Idea in design thinking is to provide agile product creation or solutions.

Without Design Thinking & Behavioural Science, AI Will be Only an Incremental Value

Though organizations understand the opportunity that big data presents, many struggles to find a way to unlock its value and use it in tandem with design thinking – making “big data a colossal waste of time & money.” Only by combining quantitative insights gathered using AI, machine/deep learning, and qualitative research through behavioural science, and finally design thinking to uncover hidden patterns and leveraging it to understand what the customer would want, will we be able to paint a complete picture of the problem at hand, and help drive towards a solution that would create value for all stakeholders.


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