One might conclude that faster processors, higher capacity disk sub-systems, bigger pipes, etc., are certain to improve an organization’s ability to make sense of the world.
Unfortunately, for the most part, I think the converse is true – organizations may in fact be getting dumber.
Let me explain.
Earlier this year I blogged about enterprise amnesia. This unfortunate condition occurs when an organization makes a decision without taking into account all other related facts the enterprise already knows. For example, hiring employees who had previously been arrested for stealing from you.
Enterprise amnesia is embarrassing because after the fact it becomes so obvious something was missed – sometimes so much so, an organization may appear grossly negligent. This is bad. When this negligence relates to financial matters, bad might involve Sarbanes-Oxley violations. When such negligence relates to health care, bad might mean surgical procedures on the wrong body part and in a national security context, bad might mean death that could have been averted.
An inability to recall and act upon what one knows is simply not a good thing.
This problem – an inability to locate and act upon what one knows – is getting worse because faster systems are producing information substantially faster than traditional sensemaking algorithms (using these same fast systems) can keep up.
Therefore consider this: if enterprise intelligence was measured based on how well one can take advantage of what one knows … if an organization were to capture progressively more information than it could make sense of … I would argue that this organization is becoming progressively less intelligent (as compared to its potential).
The bigger the distance between what is knowable and the sense one can make of it … the greater the enterprise amnesia index. Here is a picture I drew that depicts this.
Not to say fast systems are bad. Rather, I am suggesting that better sensemaking algorithms will be essential to fully leverage one’s ever-growing enterprise information assets.
And, if you have been following my blog, this will come as no surprise. Enterprise intelligence is going to have everything to do with such things as semantic reconciliation, persistent context, discoverability, perpetual analytics and incremental learning. All in real time, of course.