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Why 'Cognitive Computing' Is the Next Big Thing for Business Growth This innovative technology is transforming employee contributions and optimizing business results.

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Computers have always been faster than humans at consuming, calculating and computing data, and artificial intelligence is a boon for our global economy. Yet, computers do have their limitations. They are machines, after all, and lack native precision when attempting to recognize and interpret language, objects or images on demand. In those instances -- especially when verification is required to proceed with a transaction -- most programs require a fail-safe checkpoint. Ever notice the requests to verify that you're not a robot when submitting data online?

However, combining insights from computer science (the study of computers and their algorithmic processes) with cognitive science (the interdisciplinary study of the mind and how it works) can advance human thought, shape outcomes in ways that transform the process of human capital development and enhance overall employee contributions and engagement. Additionally, these synergies can boost the quantitative and qualitative results that factor into an organization's big-picture efforts to stay competitive and drive revenue. Take for example, IBM's Watson, a cognitive system that enables IT departments to data mine and analyze unstructured content. It's structured to enhance active learning and results in more effective business decision-making for the organization at-large.

Related: Walking With AI: How to Spot, Store and Clean the Data You Need

Deloitte Consulting describes the wide-ranging benefits of the technology in this way, "[c]ognitive computing is a collection of algorithmic capabilities that can augment employee performance, automate increasingly complex workloads and develop cognitive agents that stimulate both human thinking and engagement." This, of course, is exactly the point.

As you seek to develop your organization's most valuable assets and scale both its short and long-term goals, consider leveraging the following benefits of cognitive computing to your organization's advantage.

1. Improved employee capabilities, contributions and performance.

Employees can benefit from self-learning algorithms that help them to do their jobs better and faster. Such programs support increased productivity by automating repetitive, low-value tasks such as collecting relevant statistics or updating client records with demographic, financial or even medical data. In the legal industry, predictive coding -- a "smart" analytical mechanism that helps lawyers mine through voluminous content -- streamlines the discovery process, especially where accuracy, deadlines and pecuniary interests each compete to provide clients with excellent service and added value.

Human resource departments can also leverage these systems to assist with building their talent pipelines and maximize outcomes related to on-boarding, technical training, continuing education and development, as well as short and long-term succession planning.

In these contexts, cognitive computing represents unlimited opportunities for employees to expand thinking, improve contributions and enhance overall engagement. When taken together, these benefits also have an inherent multiplier effect.

Related: Simple Tools You Can Use to Manage Your Time and Increase Productivity

2. Higher quality data analysis.

Technological advances and endless industry contributions have made one thing clear. A sea of data is constantly being thrust into the business ecosystem. And, it's unlikely to stop anytime soon. In fact, there's so much information out there, that it's extremely difficult for data scientists to keep up with -- and manage -- this ever-increasing stream of knowledge capital. Nonetheless, big data must be dealt with.

Whether filtering through high levels of structured or unstructured content, invariably the goal is to produce an accurate, timely and meaningful analysis. Yet, this is not always an easy task. Human error and clear limitations on efficiently consuming, calculating and computing data all factor into the equation. Cognitive computing, however, helps to accomplish this worthwhile, strategic goal by optimizing the process.

By integrating and analyzing big data sets, cognitive-based systems learn to interpret technical and industry-specific jargon, apply high-level reasoning -- and in some cases, predictive modeling -- to develop comprehensive solutions that result in a higher quality of overall data analysis.

3. Enhanced business performance.

Businesses are always searching for more effective ways to leverage technology to their advantage. Whether seeking to deliver a better product or a higher-quality service, success almost always begins with capturing relevant information and using it to make good decisions. Cognitive computing helps businesses accomplish both goals by using smart systems to execute critical research, digitize manual processes, communicate with stakeholders, mitigate risk and even course correct where necessary.

Related: The How-To: Using AI To Transform Consumer Businesses

Just beyond information gathering and computation, though, exists the issue of the bottom line. The process of achieving competitive advantage, along with increasing sales, revenue and profits, is no small feat. To do so successfully, businesses must pivot by sharpening their technical acumen and elevating their performance within the marketplace. Google and Amazon are prime examples of companies that have done this successfully.

Businesses that combine strategic planning, along with the use of these smart technologies, proactively shape long-term performance. Incorporating capability maturity models, as well as modeling and analyzing complex data, allows them to create the future in advance and test it for the best-case scenario.

If you've found yourself struggling to embrace this new wave of disruptive technology, take a closer look at what cognitive computing has to offer. Then, use it to your organization's advantage. You'll be glad you did.

Karima Mariama-Arthur

Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport

Karima Mariama-Arthur is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm located in Washington, D.C. that specializes in professional development. She trains, coaches and consults for individuals and organizations on the dynamics of complex communication and high-performance leadership competence. 

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