Here is a bit of storytelling to help connect why what we are about to discuss matters. For our story, we’ll use science fiction as the reference. Some sci-fi buffs may recall in 2011, Bradley Cooper starred in a movie called LIMITLESS. In the movie, Cooper who plays a self-made loser takes an experimental drug that allows him to use 100 percent  of his mind. He suddenly can recall everything he has ever heard, seen, or learned and combine that with all the new things his brain can consume. This instantly enables him to have access to all his knowledge combined with the ability to make complex analyses and decisions. However, it is still at the maximum speed and capability of biology, he is not a computer. The movie’s version of a human and a digital all in one person. Superhuman invincibility in a bottle.

Nearly all industrial companies are on a journey of some type of IoT/Data inspired “transformation”. Many traditionally call it Digital Transformation when they first start. Others who are already seeing lots of value evolve to calling it nothing at all, as they have completely altered how they get things done and continue to rethink themselves going forward. Most companies do not stop to think about how they can transform across the enterprise in a system-wide approach – they do it in silos which create upstream and downstream consequences.

For the rest, who are still hoping and looking for insights there are a myriad of companies offering plenty of assistance and/or solutions, for a price. Unfortunately, it is exactly in those cascading multitudes wherethe noise for us end-users can, at times, be deafening. So perhaps it may be time for us to put away our phones and email or if you are like me with dog-years of experience, turn down the hearing aids and get back to the basics of problem-solving.

To begin with, perhaps we have a systems problem. One is of the human, one is of the digital. Our approach has been to entangle the two even though they have dramatic dimensional differences (linear versus exponential). For simplicity, let’s call one the Human Enterprise (HE), and we’ll call the other the Digital Enterprise (DE). They each have domain elements that we use to drive value creation, and fit the way we thought things should be done, and therefore connected.

The two entangled systems are as follows with common domains highlighted:

• Human Enterprise (HE) Cycle: more success, leadership confidence, more investment, better talent, and greater need to prioritize value. The HE contains the knowledge of the enterprise, but its speed is limited by human effectiveness.

• Digital Enterprise (DE) Cycle: more success, leadership confidence, more investment, more data & complexity, and data science. The DE enables accelerated data capability and speed to the organization but lacks the context and depth of knowledge contained in the HE.

In reality, we probably wouldn’t have ever suspected that we created a systems problem except for the data. Data, as it turns out, is the real culprit. Imagining these two systems as cycles in the way that we constructed them to fit our enterprise may appear similar to Figure 1 below

In Figure 1, we can see that the two systems intersect forming two linked cycles that drive us forward on the road to the future. Then, it also follows that our pace forward on the road to the future is set through human-powered institutional functions and processes in the HE domains (i.e., More Success, Better Talent, Leadership Confidence). What is interesting when we draw the picture this way is how we have the Digital Enterprise contorted to fit the human. This means that regardless of the potential advantage that digital imbues it has to conform to the institutional of the human. And is further limited in speed due to itslong entanglement with the Human Enterprise.

"Data is growing exponentially, and our enterprise’s ability to capture value does not match the rate at which data is being created"

In short, by not knowing any better, we pasted Digital on top of our Human Enterprise creating massive entanglement and complexity problems. These are the problems that we face every day in the form of Technical Debt and Customer Dissatisfaction.

Now that we know the problems we are facing, how might we solve them? How about:

A. Get the human off of the road

B. Create value at parity with the growth of data.

C. Minimalize the entanglements between the systems.

Next, let’s look at an alternative combination of cycles that satisfies the above conditions (Figure 2).

Suppose we take the DE and supercharge its capabilities by disentangling it from the HE where their only connection becomes “More Investment” in either talent or technology and further advancing “data science” to become “AI”. This new digital cycle is now only linked to the “road to the future” by itself and is free to become the Digital Limitless Enterprise (DLE). Its components are now: AI, more success, more investment, and more data & complexity. Interestingly, because it is now unburdened from connection to the road, the former HE now transforms and becomes the Human Limitless Enterprise (HLE), and is free to act in a new way, as a power factor through talent by adding momentum to the DLE through “more investment”. Freeing up humans to apply knowledge in a way that further alters the entire enterprise from not just “Exponential”, i.e., capturing value at the rate that data grows, to what leading AI expert Arthur Kordon calls “Super-Exponential”. Capturing value at the rate that knowledge grows. See figure 3.

Now that we have a potential solution, how do we make all of this happen? It’s called changing our Frame-of-Reference. Part of changing our reference is understanding Fig. 3, which is the difference between what we are already doing, and what we need to be doing from an outcome perspective.

Making this changeis a lessonwe must all learn and experience to believe and understand. Therefore, paying others to teach us might be less fruitful than we hope. This is why turning down my hearing aids was so important.

Nothing matters more than your context in building a new frame of reference. Interestingly, the frame of reference begins again with an acknowledgment of the culprit. Data is growing exponentially, and our enterprise’s ability to capture value does not match the rate at which data is being created. Therefore, we are sub-optimized and that gap continues to grow.

In his book titled The Exponential Age , investor & author, Azeem Azhar advocates that to not use these readily available technologies and abundantly generated data, disadvantages a company and in time will make it uncompetitive.

Perhaps your company’s experience in the real-life Exponential Age is also being defined by technology and the exponentially growing data it creates. Now consider arranging your supercharged DLE along with a power factored HLE where human knowledge capture and the human network effect are now enabled by that technology. Your entire industry, all its supply chain and enterprises, functions, and processes can be taught to a machine and combined into one connected knowledge domain and integrated with causal reasoning and decisions. These capabilities in real-time, can be and have been successfully assembled through methodologies to create “Knowledge Based Cognitive AI’s”. When properly applied this will have the same effect on our companies as taking the pill did for Bradley Cooper’s fictional character in the movie. But this time, not at the speed of biology; instead, at the speed of the digital and the power of Kordon’s “Super-Exponential”. The Limitless “Super-Exponential Enterprise”.