Why Augmentation Will Redefine Human Decision-Making

In the future, there will be a tsunami of information for humans to absorb. Quite frankly, this will be impossible to grasp — never mind make decisions with it. The question looms: how will humans consume the data the machines will generate?

While enthusiasm grows for machine intelligence, there must also be a greater focus on giving humans the necessary tools to understand and take complex decisions. In our view, insights that result in data-heavy dashboards will have limited value if users cannot understand or apply the vast amounts of newly uncovered data, especially unstructured data coming from social, demographic, cultural, or complex scientific outputs.

IDC suggests that 25% of the world’s 2,000 largest public companies will invest in new knowledge networks that include automated process as well as behavioral and interactional information capture and dissemination to improve enterprise learning by 2024, especially learning that is hyper-personalized and hyper-contextualized.

To improve learning, we must do more to understand what knowledge is truly relevant.

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” This makes me focus on what future IT systems and decision makers actually “see.” Whatever they see must be in run-time composition, hyper-personal, and able to augment people to leverage intelligence in new ways.

Imagine a System That Provides the Right Data at the Right Time

Augmentation is not necessarily new. We’re already augmented in our daily lives when we write a text and get recommendations for better wording or when we search Netflix for a movie we might like.

But it is a different story when it comes to finding new ways to augment how people perform and interact at work. Imagine a digital system that truly knows the user and their job to be done, including understanding their immediate needs. Such a future feature in any digital system would become a representation of the user and the way they work, including their preferences, profiles, and even personal ambitions, passions, and future goals.

We believe that software should innately help people — to let them be at the center of their specific job to be done. For this to come to life, such a system will first need to be safe, secure, and privately owned by each of the users. It must harvest, analyze, and serve the findings back to any API, app, and person to which the owner allows it to be served.

This vision of future enterprise software leads to my extreme excitement to bring human ingenuity together with machine intelligence. One way we are exploring this at SAP is through an integrated set of intelligent platform capabilities we call “Digital ME.” These capabilities give users exactly the data they need when they need it through contextualization and hyper-personalization. As a result, those systems can take care of mundane work or point users to opportunities for personal or professional development.

Access Control Made Easy

Such augmentation at enterprise scale might only be available in a decade, but some projects already make use of this concept today. One area is augmented access control. Compromised login credentials and access permissions are often a gateway into the corporate network, and therefore need to be carefully protected against threats such as ransomware, phishing, malware, and, more generally, criminal hackers.

Currently, managing access to enterprise data and assets is a highly manual task. Soon, with the growth of data and apps, a digital representation of the person to get access could streamline the end-to-end process of obtaining frictionless access by providing context and a history trail about the user and match their needs. Is the access needed permanently or only temporarily? How will the data be used? Is it necessary to first obtain approval from a supervisor before requesting access? The digital representation could help humans anticipate these access requirements and gather the necessary information to facilitate access, increasing productivity and enabling quicker business decisions.

The need and potential of augmentation are emerging almost everywhere. Let’s take the area of finance: the future CFO could make more impactful strategic capital allocation and budget planning by obtaining contextualized and hyper-personalized data to understand and take actions on a web of causalities like cross-organizational processes, digital asset integrations, and compliance restrictions. This is just one example of how SAP will connect enterprise and human genius in the coming decade and help redefine human decision-making through augmentation.


Martin Wezowski is chief futurist and head of Future Hub for SAP New Ventures & Technologies.