Cognitive Technologies: The Next Step Up for Data and Analytics

  • Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby, and Michael Fitzgerald
  • March 08, 2016

Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby, authors of Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines, offer context for understanding cognitive technology offerings — and what it will mean for business.

So-called “smart” technologies are everywhere, and the level of intelligence in smart machines is increasing over time. Analytics technology is evolving toward cognitive systems, capable of making basic decisions and performing rudimentary and repetitive tasks in data management.

In January 2016, MIT Sloan Management Review hosted a discussion on how to understand the bewildering array of cognitive technology offerings. The webinar presenters were Thomas H. Davenport, President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College and a Fellow of the MIT Center for Digital Business, and Julia Kirby, a Boston-based editor and writer. Davenport and Kirby are co-authors of the forthcoming book Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines (HarperBusiness, May 24, 2016).

The speakers discussed what technology capabilities will be available in the future — and what tasks will still require human input — and touched on artificial intelligence, automation, and business rules for making cognitive technology functional. Michael Fitzgerald, a contributing editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, moderated the discussion.

This video includes the webinar presentation of their research as well as a Q&A with attendees. Highlights of the conversation are posted on Twitter at the hashtag #MITSMRevent.