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Brief Introduction to the Rising Field of Decision Intelligence!

Overview

  • Decision Intelligence is still an emerging field though it has been in the market for some time
  • Understand what is a decision intelligence

 

Introduction

Recently I came across this term- Decision Intelligence. Then out of curiosity, I wanted to read more about this but I found that there are not many resources available around DI, as much we see resources around Machine learning or Data Science.

decision intelligence

I feel Decision Intelligence is still an emerging field though it has been in the market since around 2012.  It was founded by Mark Zandari and Dr. Lorien Pratt. Mark is the CEO/CTO of Quantellia, a software company that provides DI software and services. And Dr. Pratt is a Machine learning pioneer, also leads machine learning and decision intelligence innovation at Quantellia.

In this blog, I have tried to pen down my understanding of Decision Intelligence so far.

 

Table of Content

  1. What is a Decision?
  2. What is Decision Intelligence?
  3. Resources related to Decision Intelligence

Before understanding the big term Decision Intelligence let’s first understand what is Decision?

 

What is a Decision?

So the Cambridge Dictionary says-

A Decision is a choice that you make about something after thinking about several possibilities.

Decision Tree, Algorithm

Pretty simple and accurate!

And Decision-making is the process of making choices, by collecting all the relevant information required for making a decision.

If there are two paths in front of us- Path A and Path B and we need to decide which one should we take, we’ll make our decision keeping in mind what could be the possible outcome if we choose Path A, and similarly with Path B. And for that we’ll need some information related to these paths, for instance, we might recall our previous experiences related to these paths or ask anyone nearby.

P.S imagine the pre GPS and Google maps era.

Now that we have an understanding of what decision and decision making is let’s understand what is Decision Intelligence?

 

What is Decision Intelligence?

Imagine how easy and efficient it would be to make any decision if somehow we knew, prior to making any decision, what is going to happen in the future if we make a particular decision today. Basically, is it possible to know decisions that are going to give better outcomes than the others?

Well, this is possible now, with the help of Decision Intelligence. Around 2012 this new discipline emerged as a result of  research conducted by Mark and Lorien 2009. Decision Intelligence is all about – If we make this decision today, then what will happen in the future? Basically, taking help from your computer for making decisions.

Now you must be wondering what kind of decisions am I talking about in a real-world scenario? Let me try to give some examples. The greatest challenges that people face in the 21st century require that we do a better job of integrating people, processes, and technologies. Whether we are talking about how we can distribute medicines/vaccines, or whether we want to reduce the supply chain management risk of a complex international organization, we must use computers, data, and our own judgment in ways that have never been seen before.

descision intelligence

Now another important point- today we have lots of data, with all this data we have and our ability to store and process more and more amount of data now we have a new problem to address, how are we going to use to this data to earn more profit or beat our competitors or even solve any difficult problem. This simply means having data and the ability to process it isn’t enough now, it’s time to look beyond this.

In one of the articles by Dr. Lorien Pratt (Machine Learning and Decision Intelligence pioneer) on DI, she gives this amazing example that explains the need for DI in a very easy manner-

“Imagine the head of an NGO in Africa, faced with combating a new disease, with limited donor funds, and with the goal of avoiding “band-aid” solutions, instead of providing a new system that lasts well beyond the current crisis and well into the future. He needs data about the disease, for sure. But he also needs to understand where the money is best spent: should it go to hospitals? Doctor training? or Community health workers?”

Well, DI can help in answering these critical decision-making questions.

Many businesses and organizations fail due to a lack of good decision-making skills. The journey from a decision to a final outcome is complex. It is not straight forward as you might be thinking because one decision can lead to another decision and that can lead to another and so on. This forms a chain. Hence we can say that decisions are interrelated and DI helps us in understanding that if we make a decision at one place how is it going to impact the other places. Decision Intelligence can help businesses to look at the broader picture that can help them to grow their businesses by making the right choice at the right time.

Wikipedia says-

Decision intelligence is a discipline for analyzing this chain of cause and effect, and decision modeling is a visual language for representing these chains.

Decision intelligence (DI) solves the world’s most complex problems or wicked problems as they say. It connects human decision-makers to technologies like machine learning, AI, deep learning, visual decision modeling, complex systems modeling, big data, predictive analytics, UX design, statistical analysis, business intelligence, business process management, causal reasoning, evidence-based analysis, and more.

One thing I would like to mention here. The idea behind DI is not only to solve business-related problems but also to solve more crucial real-world problems such as poverty, unemployment, pandemic, inequality, etc. If we have so much advanced technology then why we are still not able to tackle these complex problems with the help of technology? This question is addressed in this book by Dr. Lorien Pratt- Link: How Decision Intelligence Connects Data, Actions, and Outcomes for a Better World. Link delivers practical examples of how DI connects people to computers and to each other to help us solve complex interconnected problems.

There are multiple companies in the market that offers DI software such as Quantellia(obviously) and Busigence but if you want to build your own DI Software refer to this article by Cameron AfzalHow to build Decision Intelligence Software.

 

Resources related to Decision Intelligence

0- The simplest video to understand DI – Data from the future

1- DataHack Radio: Decision Intelligence with Google Cloud’s Chief Decision Scientist, Cassie Kozyrkov

2- Lorien Pratt’s Blog

3- Cassie Kozyrkov (Google) on Decision intelligence (ML++) | TNW Conference 2018

4- How Decision Intelligence Can Accelerate and Optimize Assortment Planning

 

End Notes

This was just an introductory article on DI. The aim of this article was to give you a sense of what Decision Intelligence is. Please feel free to add more information on DI in the comments below, I’ll be happy to learn more about it.

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