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behave," Plummer explained. "The machine follows you. The
machine does it the way you want to do it. The machine
anticipates your expectations and gives you your sense of
comfort rather than you having to sit at a certain machine or
a certain network. That's what digital business is all about."
In this new world, for example, the digital use of crowds
through crowdsourcing begins to play a larger role in new
initiatives. Crowds will help figure out what projects should
be undertaken, and they'll help fund those efforts through
Kickstarter-like mechanisms. The technology for support-
ing crowdsourcing endeavors is getting better, Plummer
said, citing the ready availability of platforms that allow
people to provide input and get feedback in real time
What CIOs have to start thinking about, he said, is how
to use crowds inside their own organizations to solve busi-
ness problems. "Instead of building teams of people that
are pre-structured, why not start thinking about using ad
hoc teams? Set up the subject, the questions you're trying
to answer. Get them out into a social environment like
a Yammer and say, 'Hey, let's get the crowd's opinion.'"
But making the software available isn't the end of the work,
he added. It will also require "building the right culture to
support this bottom-up contribution." Without "employees
who care," these social business initiatives are likely to fail.
The digitization of the enterprise is also treading into
issues of personal privacy. "You can go on Facebook and
find out more about a person today than you could with
months of study 40 years ago," Plummer said.
That leads to an interesting conjunction. On one hand,
consumers will increasingly begin to "collect, track and
barter their personal data" in exchange for cost savings,
convenience and customized offerings. On the other hand,
digital security of personal data is getting more difficult for
organizations to guarantee.
In that regard, noted Plummer, Gartner predicts that by
2020 enterprises and governments will fail to protect three-
quarters of sensitive data and will therefore "declassify and
grant broad and public access to it." While that prospect may
be considered "blasphemy" in the IT world, he stated, it's
backed up by current practice. IT departments are in the habit
of calling much of the data under their care and management
"sensitive." The reality is that "we treat all of it as sensitive
because we don't have the money or time to separate it out."
To demonstrate what he meant, Plummer called into ques-
tion a statement such as, "Our medical data is sensitive." "All
of it? Really? Are you telling me the stuff individuals are shar-
ing on their own social sharing sites is sensitive when you
have it, but not when they share it in a social community?"
In reality, the growth of data "exceeds the protective mech-
anisms we have for it," he said. "If we try to protect it all, we
will fail. And by the way, we are already failing. We are not
protecting the sensitive data we think we are protecting."
A better approach for ensuring protection, Plummer
advised, is to establish what truly is sensitive data and
figure out how to share the other information for political
or economic advantage.
Disruption 3: Smart Machines
Smart machines are already available that automate decision-
making based on data they have accumulated. "They make
decisions faster, more accurately, maybe more consis-
tently than we can," said Plummer. As current examples he
pointed to cars that park themselves, surgical robots that
assist in surgery and autopilots that can land a plane in
certain situations. "These things are only going to grow.
They're getting more possible. They're acceptable. You
see commercials with automated assist capabilities all the
time. They look cool to us now. As little as 15 years ago,
they probably scared us to death."
Gartner predicts that by 2024, at least a tenth of those
activities that are "potentially injurious to human life" will
require mandatory use of smart systems that can't be over-
ridden by humans. Organizations working in the field of
"smart adviser" development will enjoy "substantive com-
petitive advantage," Plummer declared.
The job for CIOs and IT leaders, he added, will be to
help identify where and how the deployment of auto-
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