How cognitive computing streamlines business processes

Helping people make better decisions, cognitive computing has the potential to reshape how work gets done and how businesses grow

From reinventing HR decision making to transforming marketing insight, cognitive computing technology is changing businesses globally.

Allowing users to work with larger quantities of data and mimicking human thought processes to help people make better decisions, cognitive computing can give organisations a serious advantage.

Particularly effective when handling and evaluating unstructured data, cognitive technologies use advanced algorithms to analyse unstructured data to derive insights and sentiment. According to Deloitte: “Cognitive computing has the potential to reshape how work gets done, how businesses grow, and how markets and industries evolve by delivering automated, evidence-based responses that drive better outcomes.

“It’s no longer a question of when computers will be able to learn, ‘think’, and provide reasoned responses – they already can.”

Tackling complex decision-making processes

In the words of Dharmendra Modha, lead researcher of the Cognitive Computing group at IBM Almaden Research Centre: “Cognitive computing goes well beyond artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction as we know it – it explores the concepts of perception, memory, attention, language, intelligence, and consciousness.
“Typically, in AI, one creates an algorithm to solve a particular problem. Cognitive computing seeks a universal algorithm for the brain.”

By learning patterns and behaviours and becoming more intelligent, a computer system can tackle complex decision-making processes, according to Sue Tripathi Ph.D, Managing Director, Global GTM, Data, AI at Accenture.

“The genesis of cognitive computing aligns to the basic characteristics of most human beings-understand, reason, learn and interact,” she says. “Like humans, cognitive computing has its own language, viz., natural language processing and machine learning with neural networks. Natural language processing aids in intuitive discovery, understanding meaning and context. 

“On the other hand, machine learning with neural networks provides algorithms that help train the system to recognise images and understand speech. Cognitive computing stimulates human thought processes in machines using self-learning algorithms, through data mining, visual and speech recognition and natural language processing to find answers to complex problems. 

“By mimicking human thought processes, cognitive computing systems essentially create an artificial environment where computers help people make better decisions.  

Many benefits of cognitive computing  

As Deloitte says, computers have always been able to perform mechanical calculations faster than humans: “Computers haven’t always been great at what humans would call grey areas of thought and reasoning, but in the cognitive era, that is changing.” 

But what distinguishes cognitive computing is its ability to learn as well, helping users to make decisions and reduce any misinterpretation or false conclusions.. 

“The first benefit of cognitive computing is the ability to extract useful information from complex data, using cognitive computing technologies like signal learning, machine learning and natural language processing to communicate insights in easy to understand language,” Tripathi outlines.

“Cognitive computing systems sort through vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, processing and analysing massive amounts of data very quickly. As they handle large sets of data, which humans typically cannot, the system continues to learn and get better over time as new data enters the system. 

“Backed by such solid evidence, cognitive computing is able to provide decision-makers with the information they need to make better data-backed decisions – sometimes very specific and personalised recommendations to a client or internally to other key decision makers. 

The benefit of cognitive computing is its use in many sectors, in healthcare, financial services, retail or manufacturing. 

“For example, in healthcare, cognitive computing assists physicians by providing easily accessible readable patient images, some aspects of which a human may have missed,” adds Tripathi. “Access to these types of images, thanks to cognitive computing, allows the doctor to make better diagnoses and personalised treatment decisions. 

“Similarly, financial services customise and offer products based on their customer behaviour patterns and cognitive computing analytical capabilities, to develop personalised services. Data from multiple Internet of Things (IoT) devices paired with cognitive computing analysis have enabled insurance companies to capture driving behaviours of clients to adjust premiums.”

Helping businesses achieve their goals

An article and infographic published by Ohio University states: “Perhaps the greatest promise offered to businesses today stems from cognitive computing technology. These systems can process unstructured information in ways like humans, but much faster. 

“The systems are already improving employee and customer experiences, streamlining new product innovation, enabling health care providers to spend more time with patients, and even saving lives by identifying customer safety issues before they cause accidents.”

And by being adaptive, interactive with humans, iterative, contextual and flexible as information changes and as business goals evolve, cognitive computing helps businesses achieve their goals, Tripathi says.

“Since cognitive computing systems learn, reason, interact and adapt to multiple situations or contexts, the system itself is trained to learn based on these interactions, giving sound, evidence-based advice and recommendations,” she adds.

“Many businesses have duplicative and redundant business processes, unable to discern and prioritise which ones to invest to automate. Cognitive computing systems are intensively iterative, gulping large amounts of complex data, sorting and sifting pertinent data. This repetitious process enables applicable data and associated business processes to be categorised as information “germaine” to the business, streamlining unrelated data and business processes to be “de-linked”. 

Cognitive computing: a must-have for organisations

Cognitive computing is a must-have for organisations. It streamlines business operations, allowing organisations to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace and to take advantage of the opportunities offered by cognitive computing to be leading edge in your specific industry. 

“The reality is, whether we acknowledge it or not, cognitive computing systems impact our daily lives – health and wellness, finance, sports, travel, entertainment, shopping et al,” concludes Tripathi. “The use cases of cognitive computing in so many industries – finance, manufacturing, energy, healthcare, life sciences – is indicative of how cognitive computing can help customers curate their search and find the most relevant recommendations. 

“While AI uses algorithms to empower machines to think intelligently and make business decisions on its own, cognitive computing uses data mining and natural language processing to simulate the human thought process and reasoning to come up with pertinent recommendations, which can be used by humans to solve complex business problems with good business outcomes.”


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