The Human Algorithm: Barrett Thompson is general manager of pricing excellence solutions for Zilliant, an optimization company that helps businesses use in-house data to make better sales and pricing decisions.
In a January interview with InformationWeek
on the algorithm-versus-intuition topic, Thompson
pointed out that the algorithmic approach to decision-making is based on the collective experiences of multiple individuals within a business.
"Let's say I
'm looking at set of sales transactions completed over the past year, and I have five million of them sitting in the data warehouse," says Thompson
have captured in that data, what I
have to find a way to unlock, is the distilled wisdom and experience of five hundred salespeople who encountered tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of unique selling circumstances."
A predictive algorithm, he
says, doesn't create knowledge out of thin air.
Rather it's an "accelerator" of what an organization already knows.
It's driven by human experience, by "data points you've lived through."
can't see what the other 499 salespeople did, and I
can't even remember what I
did in March of last year.
make so many decisions that they become lost in memory," Thompson
had a software tool, an algorithm that could remind me of what I've learned, and reveal to me what everyone else has learned...
could look at the guidance coming out of the algorithm as a distilled and refined experience from myself and people just like me."
Of course, the big caveat here is that Thompson
are heavily vested in the analytics camp.