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"Load balancing" decisions

Chatting with some colleagues yesterday, one of them used the phrase "load balancing" when talking about how you could combine computer-based and human-centric decisioning. The context was a discussion around Deep Blue, IBM's famous chess computer, and how much processing power it needed to win chess matches against the top human player - 256 processors and 200,000,000 positions evaluated a second. This led on to another discussion, one somewhat inspired by my recent reading of Blink and by Larry Rosenberger's presentationon a similar topic, whatif we tried to build a computer to assist a player not replace them completely? In EDM terms, what if we:

  • Used analytics to score potential moves for risk and upside
  • Used automation to eliminate many of the possible moves that are clearly unsuitable
  • Automated those moves where there is an obviously best move
  • Left the less clear ones for a player to make but gave the player lots of extra information about why they were being asked

How much processing power would this take? Is this kind of "load balancing" interesting or useful? It was a fascinating discussion, enriched by the wonderful concept of "load balancing" between people and computers.

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Phil Ayres

This type of load balancing sounds like the way organizations should be approaching projects to achieve the best ROI. Rather than randomly throwing every piece of technology than can get their hands on at a problem, recognizing the value of their people and how they can support them with appropriate tools is essential.

My opinion is that taking the 'grunt-work' out is something that should be done. Decision making, process management, data entry, all lead to errors when performed by people, and can typically be performed far faster and more repeatably by well selected systems. Adding human interaction into the mix as knowledge workers assisted by these systems allows for a high degree of flexibility and intelligence that machines alone cannot reproduce.

I think most business people acknowledge this to be the best approach, but lose sight of how to really assist people with technology, rather than just trying to make them do the same stuff faster.

Thanks for giving me another distraction from what I should really be doing on a Friday afternoon - nice post!


ps I'll mention a related-ish post I wrote that tackles this from the reverse direction. It assumes that BPM is already dealing with the 'grunt work', and identifies how to link this back to the people that have to perform complex collaborative tasks - truly using technology to assist them to work better.

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