The World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, was once quizzed by Time magazine about how many moves ahead he would consider before moving a piece.
“Sometimes 15 to 20 moves ahead,” he replied. “But the trick is evaluating the position at the end of those calculations.”
He’s right and, in my experience, when it comes to anticipating the future the world of business is far more complex than a one-on-one game of chess.
The main concern for leaders of the world’s biggest businesses is making the right choice in a increasingly complex and unpredictable future. Like a chess grandmaster, they need to be anticipating months and even years ahead. They need to weigh options, calculate risks, balance priorities, and then make choices with millions of euros, systemic impact and, potentially, thousands of jobs on the line.
In the context of today’s digital transformation, making the right choice can mean creating enormous value. There’s incredible potential value waiting to be unlocked and the right combination of policies and strategies topped with true leadership can release that value.
But if you make the wrong choice, if you fail to anticipate the way the market, your business, and your industry will evolve, then there’s a real chance your business will go down and be replaced by other more agile companies.
So how does today’s business leader look 15 to 20 moves ahead, and anticipate the shape of the industrial chessboard in from of them?
Well to start with, they should position themselves to look forward rather than backwards.
It sounds obvious but consider: how many business decisions today are made based on data about the past?
A data-driven decision making strategy is just another way of saying ‘we think that the future will largely resemble the past’. A company that relies on yesterday to predict tomorrow will soon find themselves in trouble today.
The fundamental truth of digital transformation is that tomorrow won’t resemble yesterday; relying on historical trends to predict the future makes about as much sense as driving a car with your eyes fixed firmly on the rearview mirror.
Data on its own is not enough to uncover what is to come. To that data we need to add two other essential elements: collective human intelligence and expertise, and the power of simulation to anticipate the most desirable futures.
When data about what has happened before is coupled with human expertise to understand, explain, and reason, we begin to have a better understanding of what has happened and, more importantly, why it happened. Once we have the ‘why’, we can construct models of these complex systems and run simulations on those models to determine the most likely future, and our best strategy to exploit it.
This combination of data, human intelligence and expertise, and simulation is what we at Cosmo Tech call Augmented Intelligence.
With Augmented Intelligence decision makers can anticipate the future and make optimal choices with full knowledge of the impact at short, mid and long term of every one of those choices. They can leverage the power of simulation, harness the intelligence of all of their experts, and put their data to work in a way that’s forward-facing, not backward-glancing.
As the chess champion said, it’s one thing to be able to see what is to come but another to be able to evaluate what it all means. With Augmented Intelligence, the future is not only more predictable but also more comprehensible.
We’re pulling the future into focus, and helping decision makers chart a path towards it.
Hugues de Bantel is the CEO and co-founder of Cosmo Tech.