What Is “Cognitive Enterprise”?

Cognitive enterprise is a term we’re hearing a lot of these days. It’s also a term we’re using a lot of these days. As we evolve the work we create for our clients and partners, we embrace the solutions that work best for their needs. Increasingly, that means incorporating AI and machine learning technologies into what we deliver, baking a layer of system understanding into everything from marketing and commerce sites to custom employee software solutions.

In an age with vast tracts of data at our fingertips, making sense of it all by harnessing the power of AI is becoming the lynch-pin for companies that want to see continued growth in the future. It’s not just about meeting customer needs, but exceeding their expectations. Seamless omnichannel experiences, personalized digital interfaces — these are the next steps in the evolution of business, and they are where cognitive enterprise will take us. Understanding the cognitive enterprise isn’t just important, it’s an imperative.

So what is the cognitive enterprise?

It’s For Customers

The cognitive enterprise is, simply put, the application of cognitive technologies to enterprise-level business needs. But cognitive tech is a lot of things, so that broad strokes concept of what it is can be refined a fair bit.

In an article by Nicole Laskowski for TechTarget, she cites one explanation care of Rick Davidson, founder and CEO at Cimphoni, a consultancy focused on the intersection of business and IT. “He calls the next wave “the cognitive enterprise,” where technology systems that can understand, learn and even reason will be able to meet customer expectations before customers know they have an expectation that needs to be met.”

In terms of customer-facing experiences and opportunities, this is a good way to think of it. To know what the customer expects before they do, business will need to start not just collecting data, which is something they’re quite good at, but interpreting that data and using it to make informed, intelligent business decisions, something they’re not so good at (yet). Cognitive enterprise solutions will bring a layer of understanding to the data that isn’t there.

According to an IBM study, up to 90% of stored data remains unused. That is a lot of lost information. What some have called the “digital enterprise” was very good for bringing those pieces of information into the organization, but it’s the cognitive enterprise that will enable us to do something with it.

“The data is there, the information is there…and it’s of value to the business. But it’s worthless unless someone actually does something with it.” — John C Vaughn, Senior Managing Consultant, Congnitive Watson Solutions

Making data make sense

It’s For Employees

But the consumer-driven side really only tells half of the story. Cognitive enterprise is about more than transactions with customers — improved employee interactions through cognitive enterprise solutions will be as important to business success as improved customer experiences.

Intelligent interfaces, the kind that enable employees to make use of data in meaningful ways, will also incorporate cognitive solutions. In order for the data interpretation to be truly useful, it needs to be updated in real-time and constantly learning and evolving recommendations based on the new inputs. It requires a level of nuance that goes beyond simply spitting out information, and a utility that means employees aren’t fighting every step of the way to get the insights they need.

What this means for organizations is profound. As Luis Carrasco-Cortes, a member of the IBM Cognitive team, puts it, “With this deeper understanding of human behaviour and the impact of events, [a company] can add a level of nuance to their supply chain management.” Everything from streamlining shipping routes to easing billing systems can be achieved through cognitive enterprise.

The landscape for “cognitive” tech is changing at breakneck speed and cognitive enterprise will evolve rapidly as a part of that. Chatbots that can guide customers through a typically frustrating bureaucratic issue and interfaces that can take swaths of information and turn it into meaningful insights for organizations are just the tip of the iceberg. So what is the cognitive enterprise? As Bob Lewis and Scott Lee, authors of the book The Cognitive Enterprise say: “It’s a business that’s smarter than the smartest people running it. And… It’s the future.”

Want to know more about how we’re bringing cognitive enterprise to our work? Check us out online here, and take a look at what our Concepts Team is working on here.