Author Karin Eggerath, Business Data Partners Senior Consultant

Data Mining, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics…2018: A Human Odyssey?

Ever feel like you are in a Stanley Kubrick Film, when the objective only highlighted a need for an improved KPI dashboard? 21st century technological advances are resulting in more buzzwords than you can shake a stick at (and this is coming from a Management Consultant). What does it all mean and are we all doomed? In this blog we’ll give you a whistle-stop tour of the major technological advances taking 2018 by storm and compare this to your human data and analytics professional. Who will take the win? Read on to find out.

In the blue corner… Technology

Let’s start with a quick overview of buzzwords that you will have seen recently:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Nothing to do with NASA, instead is a broad term covering the use of data to offer solutions to existing problems.
  • Machine Learning – Goes a step further than AI and produces data necessary for a machine to learn and adapt.
  • Robotics – A step further again, data-driven machine learning robots.

You can see the pattern emerging here: Data Mining provides the foundation for all of these.

Data Mining involves extracting interesting patterns and useful insights from large data-sets, otherwise known as Big Data – another buzzword.

Data mining is an incredibly useful and established tool that is being built upon by AI, Machine Learning, and Robotics. Through data mining we can now perform a range of tasks to provide increased value, such as market forecasting and sequential pattern mining to detect customer buying behavior or image analysis for facial recognition. For us here at BDP we see the biggest opportunity in harnessing these technologies to provide predictive analytics for our clients.

This highly advanced type of analysis is of course vastly superior to the average human brain in terms of sheer calculating capabilities. But, hold on before you look to replace your entire analytics team.

And in the red corner…Humans

There is one capability that these new disciplines cannot replace: the analyst. With their intuition, in-depth field knowledge, and understanding of human behaviour, it is the analyst for whom demand will grow. Machine learning and data mining techniques are often modeled on human brain functions, such as neural networks and edge detection which is inspired by human visual perception. Whilst these may look like brain functions, they’re not. They cannot replace the skills acquired by experienced specialists who have spent a life learning to understand their industry and behaviours.

The Final Outcome

A draw. Maybe not the outcome you were expecting. Don’t get me wrong, these capabilities are complex and highly technical in ways that would not be possible if performed manually by a human, but that’s why we are their Master isn’t it?

Businesses will need the sharpened ability of the analyst to interpret the outcome and determine which results are actually useful. Empowered with this insight, leaders can then make informed decisions and ultimately improve overall business performance, which is what we want in the first place isn’t it?

Instead of competing tools, think of AI, Machine Learning, Robotics and advanced data mining as a powerful extension to the human brain. Whilst these technologies can provide the data mining function, finding patterns in large stat sets to predict outcomes, they can’t yet derive meaning from these outcomes. That’s where the human analyst comes in, and with that takes the win.

See, no apocalypse after all.

If you want to know more about what we do here at Business Data Partners and how we can help with your data and analytics needs, contact us today.

Karin Eggerath is a Business Data Partners Senior Consultant currently based in Edinburgh. Karin has extensive experience as a Business Intelligence Consultant working in the information technology and services industry.