If you ever wondered where business’ obsession with technology is taking us, The Mathematical Corporation: Where Machine Intelligence and Human Ingenuity Achieve the Impossible might give you a clue. The book focuses on a particular type of organization, the “mathematical corporation”, as an example of the kind of businesses that you could see in the very near future.
What is The Mathematical Corporation About?
In the book, a “mathematical organization” is an organization that leverages both human labor and machines to achieve its objectives. This type of organization is able to sort through huge amounts of data to do amazing things, like personalize loyalty cards for every single customer or predict the effectiveness of a movie by analyzing the moods of audience members through previews.
Achieving these kinds of astounding feats requires a new way of working. In the future, robots, AI and Big Data will play a greater role in the workforce, shifting the kind of work available for humans. As robots are used in more industries (ranging from transportation to law), human labor will focus on capabilities that are unique to humans. These capabilities include insight, creativity, reasoning and culture. Combining the strengths of humans and machines allows humans to tap into an unprecedented level of knowledge.
Arriving at this point where humans and machines work harmoniously together requires a new form of leadership. That leadership, the book says, must be capable of “flipping the switch”. That “switch” involves viewing labor in a whole new light. Instead of focusing exclusively on automation or human labor, leaders that “flip the switch” employ a hybrid approach. This approach uses both machines and human labor as the situation requires it. Identifying the situations that require human labor, machines, or both is a key aspect of this book. Learning how to adapt your workplace for these kinds of situations is the other.
Authors Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern are experts in the fields of big data, computer science and innovation. Josh Sullivan is the senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, a consultant in analytics and digital solutions. Angela Zutavern also works at Booz Allen Hamilton, as the vice president.
What Was Best About The Mathematical Corporation?
The Mathematical Corporation offers an exhilarating and proactive view of the world in the future. It chooses to focus on what humans can do instead of what they can’t. It focuses particularly on what leaders should do, which is unique in a book on this topic This makes it easier for a business owner who may not feel technically ready for the future. As the book points out repeatedly, it isn’t the technology that will help your business thrive in the future, it’s a leader’s ability to lead that will set the stage.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
The Mathematical Corporation is not specifically targeted to small or medium-sized businesses.The book’s examples come from well-established and large organizations, like Merck and the FDA, with the budget and labor to turn the book’s content into reality. Owners of smaller businesses can get some benefit from this book however, particularly in the revolutionary new way the authors describe leadership of the future. While the book may not give a step-by-step roadmap to innovation, it offers a revolutionary new way of using technology that can offer a decisive competitive advantage as we move further into the 21st Century.
Why Read The Mathematical Corporation?
As discussed above, The Mathematical Corporation discusses how modern technology can be leveraged in the present for a competitive advantage. A lot of books discuss business innovation, but they tend to focus on the technical details. This book focuses on innovation from a leader’s point of view — a leader who may not know (or need to know) the technical details. Yes, you can collect more details about your customers (their location, their comments, etc.), but where is all of that going? The Mathematical Corporation starts a conversation around the answers. It shows readers that the primary focus of a leader going into the future is not on technology or data. It is the application of that technology that matters more than ever. It is the application of technology that will drive your organization forward in an uncertain future.