After decades of anticipation, the promise of automated decision-making systems is finally becoming a reality in a variety of industries.
Futurists have long anticipated the day when computers would relieve managers and professionals of the need to make certain types of decisions. But for a variety of reasons — including management skepticism and concerns about solution complexity — automated decision making has been slow to materialize. Automated decision making is finally coming of age, the authors argue, and the new generation of applications differs substantially from prior decision-support systems. Today’s applications are easier to create and manage than earlier systems. Rather than require people to identify the problems or to initiate the analysis, companies typically embed decision-making capabilities in the normal flow of work. Those systems then sense online data, apply codified knowledge or logic, and make decisions — all with minimal amounts of human intervention. They can help businesses generate decisions that are more consistent than those made by people, and they can help managers move quickly from insight to decision to action. This can help companies reduce labor costs, leverage scarce expertise, improve quality, enforce policies and respond to customers. As automating decisions becomes more feasible, organizations need to think about which decisions have to be made by people and which can be computerized.