As analytics and Big Data continue to be integrated into organizational ways and means from the C-suite to the front lines, Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern believe that a new kind of company will emerge. They call it the “mathematical corporation” — a mash-up of technology and human ingenuity in which machines delve into every aspect of a business in previously impossible ways and produce insights that will allow previously unimaginable solutions — new businesses, strategies, products and services, and so on.
Sullivan and Zutavern don’t think the mature mathematical corporation exists yet, but they do have a privileged view of the forces that will produce it. Both are executives at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., where Sullivan organized and leads the company’s data science and advanced analytics capabilities, and Zutavern is developing applications of machine intelligence to organizational leadership and strategy.
In their new book, The Mathematical Corporation, Sullivan and Zutavern explore how company leaders can prepare for and accelerate the transformation to a new corporate model. The following excerpt from Chapter 7, edited for space, examines the inevitable ethical conflicts that will arise — and have already arisen — as the ability of companies to collect and parse personal data explodes. And more important, it points out the need to proactively anticipate those conflicts.