Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mobile Apps the Front End to Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

I wrote an article last week called, The Value in a Mobile Enterprise Solution in which I penned, "I proposed that the core value in an enterprise mobility solution is in the back end systems.  The back end systems are where the business logic, business processes, big data and business analytics are primarily located.  Most enterprise mobility solutions are extending back end systems.  This may seem like an obvious thing, but for many it is not."

Why do I believe that?  I recognize the value that real-time enterprises can gain from receiving assistance in making real-time decisions in uncertain environments.  Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla writes,  "The venture capital business has injected a lot of new energy and exploration for using experts and expert systems, probability and statistics, machine learning, self organizing machines and many less-discussed and some yet-undisclosed systems. Data, and big data especially hold “truths & likely correlations...”  VCs recognize we need help making real-time decisions in uncertain environments.

Khosla believes many tasks can be preformed better and faster by machines.  He listed areas such as medicine and education that can benefit greatly from artificial intelligence and the analysis of big data.  I would add to those tasks, field service management.

As you change physical locations and job statuses, so also should the instructions in your mobile app change.  Instructions such as the location and time of your next job.  The predicted parts and expertise needed.  The best location and price to buy parts and replenish supplies.  The optimal route for driving to the next job.  All of these instructions should be determined by a system benefiting from artificial intelligence, GPS tracking and one that utilizes big data in real-time that can find "truths and likely correlations."

More from Khosla's article The Surprising Path of Artificial Intelligence, "We essentially let the computer “figure it out” using lots of past problems and solutions that include probability assessment systems beyond any hard-coded rules. Reasoning under uncertain conditions underlies a major area of recent progress." 

Today, investors are funding companies with solutions that provide "reasoning under uncertain conditions!"  The 20th century military strategist John Boyd would appreciate this focus.  Here are a few of his relevant thoughts and strategies:
  • How one thinks about uncertainty, imprecision, and mismatches is critical to success. 
  • Not being able to read the environment and take advantage of opportunities that it presents is the definition of failure. 
  • Life is defined as a process of adaption.  Some adaption is successful.  Some is not.  The key is the capacity for the combination of analyses and syntheses that enables us to exploit changes.  This in turn leads to successful adaption...
  • Advantage in observation and orientation enable a tempo in decision-making and execution that outpaces the ability of the competition to react effectively in time.
Human weaknesses, biases and frailty impact our ability to make good real-time decisions in uncertain environments.  Uncertain environments is what we often find ourselves in outside of the four walls in mobile and remote places.  It is difficult for us to process large volumes of data to find "truths and correlations." 

Artificial intelligence systems using big data that are connected to GPS enabled mobile devices can offer enormous value to the mobile workforce and the enterprises that employ them.  Let the fun begin!


Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile Industry Analyst, Consultant and SAP Mentor Volunteer
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.