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BOOK REVIEW: HBR’s 10 Must Reads on AI, Analytics, and the New Machine Age by Harvard Business Review

| 1 July 2020 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: HBR’s 10 Must Reads on AI, Analytics, and the New Machine Age by Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review 
February 2019
Paperback, $37.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Non-Fiction / Computing & I.T. / Computer Science

90% Rocking

The Harvard Business Review is a trusted authority that publishes insightful articles online and in books. The HBR’s 10 Must Reads are curated sets promising definitive articles on specialised topics. On AI, Analytics, and the New Machine Age covers a diverse range of subjects about the next big revolution facing businesses. It’s a technological progression that will reshape how we do our work and interact with machines.

Algorithms capable of making predictions do not eliminate the need for care when drawing connections between cause and effect; they are not a replacement for controlled experiments. But what they can do is extremely powerful: identifying patterns too subtle to be detected by human observation, and using those patterns to generate accurate insights and inform better decision making. The challenge for us is to understand their risks and limitations, and through effective management, unlock their remarkable potential.

This collection includes 11 articles because there is also a bonus one. This is from Michael E. Porter and James E. Heppelmann and is about why every organisation needs an Augmented Reality (AR) Strategy. This is especially fascinating because it looks at how training methods are being complemented by the use of AR. The result is that the training is more life-like than ever before, because digital images are super-imposed into real-life, providing a 3D environment. This frees up our mental load because we no longer have to translate words on a page before engaging in actual actions. It will appeal to people with more kinaesthetic and tactile learning styles.

Augmented reality, a set of technologies that superimposes digital data and images on the physical world, promises to close this gap and release untapped and uniquely human capabilities. Though still in its infancy, AR is poised to enter the mainstream; according to one estimate, spending on AR technology will hit $60 billion in 2020. AR will affect companies in every industry and many other types of organisations, from universities to social enterprises.

This book is short and quite timely. There are a lot of changes happening in technology across our world and these are going to have greater applications into the future. It is fascinating to read up on how most of us will have Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants that we use every day, for instance. Things like 3D printing are also challenging traditional business models because factories will not have to be locked into expensive machinery producing the same objects at scale. The doors to customisation without hefty price-tags offers up so many possibilities.

The internet is full of articles about the progress that is happening with respect to data and analytics. But what sets this collection apart is the fact that it is a curated set of well-written and concise articles. It covers a diverse range of topics and is not locked into a particular technology or advancement. The authors are leading experts from various fields, including: academia, consultancy, business, and innovation.

It’s simple: A good person plus a good algorithm is far superior to the best person or the best algorithm alone. We aren’t pitting people and data against each other. We need them to work together. We’re not training machines to behave like humans, and we’re certainly not training humans to behave like machines. And we all need to acknowledge that we’re fallible… We’re all wrong sometimes – even the algorithm. The important thing is that we keep learning from that.

While HBR Best Reads are targeted at an audience of Executives, the text is written with easy-to-understand prose and structures, so this means that students and employees from different industries will also gain insights here. The book is informative, describing pitfalls as well as the potential of these new technologies. The authors detail their ideas and experiences, and offer clever insights alongside some practical applications.

This company ran into a common pitfall of dealing with algorithms: Algorithms tend to be myopic. They focus on the data at hand – and that data often pertains to short-term outcomes. There can be a tension between short-term success and long-term profits and broader corporate goals. Humans implicitly understand this; algorithms don’t unless you tell them to.
This problem can be solved at the objective-setting phase by identifying and specifying long-term goals. But when acting on an algorithm’s predictions, managers should also adjust for the extent to which the algorithm is consistent with long-term aims.

HBR’s Best Reads on AI, Analytics, and the New Machine Age features 11 fascinating articles about technology, covering topics like: Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing and AR. It’s a timely and relevant set of articles that predict the leaps and bounds that will be made into the future. Everything you ever wanted to know about big data and more but were too afraid to ask is gathered here in this slim and clever volume. Read it and you will be able to discuss these topics in an informed way.

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Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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