What the information worker needs is an IA-driven dashboard, app, or widget that aggregates information from different systems, extracts topics from each update, and them matches them across systems to create a common vocabulary for work activities. It should then assist the user to arrange the information in ways that make it easy to digest – for example, with intelligent filters and visualization tools. Thus, IA allows the worker to play with the information, to arrange and process it in a manner that best lets them decide what do to next.
This case of the salesperson is not an isolated one. There are many such business processes where the human will remain in the driver’s seat for years to come. The job of system designers is to continue to provide them with the best tools to deal with information overload caused by disconnected information coming from many disparate systems. And IA will continue to play a leading role in this challenge.
A virtual détente
Today’s information worker is inundated by inputs from an increasing number of data sources, and as a result they are turning to a growing number of cloud services to get business done: for storing and sharing documents; for completing transactions via CRM, HR, and business-specific apps; and for communicating with peers via social tools like Skype and Slack.
And since individuals and departments can sign up for whatever services they need (often without IT’s approval), the corpus of tools being used by an organization is becoming progressively diverse. Trying to make sense of this cacophony of signals is creating an information overload for workers, who now run the risk of dropping the ball instead of focusing on, and completing, important work endeavors. Simply put, it’s becoming more difficult to see the information forest for the data trees.
AI-based systems can help here as well. They can help make sense of this Data-Tower of Babel by creating contexts out of information emanating from different systems. But that’s as far as artificial intelligence can go, because what comes next requires human intervention – and that's where intelligence augmentation still picks up the slack.
The AI vs. IA war isn’t a war after all. They both have an important role to play in our future.
A co-founder and vice president for marketing and strategy at harmon.ie, Lavenda is a veteran of the high-tech industry, having co-founded Business Layers and held executive positions at V-Secure and WorkLight.
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