Humans With Computers, Making Better Decisions

By Nick Buchanan, Chief Operating Officer

This alert interrupted my audio book as I traveled across I-70.

ALERT!

“Accident ahead causing traffic delay.”

“New route identified to reduce trip time by 24 minutes.”

“Press OK to accept new route and proceed to exit 71 in two miles.”

As I accepted the alternative route and exited the interstate, I was surprised by the number of brake lights indicating that hundreds of vehicles were not using a tool that alerted them to the delay. The route was a 3-hour stretch between St. Louis and Kansas City. I assumed most travelers were familiar with it and that familiarity may have led to the miles-long traffic jam. Drivers weren’t using their navigation systems. Even though I have lived in the area my entire life and can drive the route unassisted, I was using Google Maps for this exact reason, but found myself alone as I redirected to exit the interstate.

This incident happened on a road trip during which I listened to Peter Thiel’s “Zero to One” and Ray Dalio’s “Principles”. In both books the authors spend time discussing the topic of computers and humans. More specifically, they discussed that when combined, computers and humans make better decisions than they do when apart. This event was a perfect example. As I began this journey, my GPS did not know where I was headed without input. Even in the current world, my phone thinks my children’s daycare is my office as I no longer travel to my office due to COVID. The GPS would also not know I wished to make a quick stop close to home because I promised my son some baseball cards to celebrate a success he had at school. However, as I told the computer my desired outcome, it incorporated simple rules to make sure I arrived at my destination as fast and safe as possible.

This technology has evolved greatly over the past 20 years. We have progressed from carrying paper maps folded up in the glove compartment to printing out exact directions on MapQuest to having built-in GPS maps in dashboards. Next came more advanced GPS in our smart phones and navigation applications like Waze that constantly adjust to incorporate traffic and accidents that direct us to faster alternate routes. Technology has progressed to the point that we now have self-driving vehicles that make route decisions for us. Will we ever get to the point a vehicle knows exactly where we want to go? Will it know that you want to pick up something special for your partner on your drive home? That you have to leave work early and head to school to pick up a sick child, stop to drop off a package or pick up carry-out for dinner? We are a long way from that point, if ever it comes. Meanwhile, navigation systems and applications continue to be tools that are advancing to make our lives easier and more efficient while repurposing our most valuable asset – time. Our time can be used for more purposeful activities. In today’s busy world, what would it be worth to have 30 extra minutes a day with your partner, kids, pets, hobbies or anything else you might rather be doing?

Society has invested decades plus billions of dollars into this advancement of computers and humans working together. The rewards have benefited those who continue to adopt these capabilities. How are you applying this to improve your journey in your own companies? Are you still working with a folded-up map to navigate everything that is going on in your supply chain? Are you still spending way too much time figuring out how you want to get to your final destination? Or, are you using your own business version of Waze to help you navigate roadblocks and pitfalls in real time so that your company and your team can save both time and money? Technological tools are available that provide simple insights to make your business journey smoother, more efficient and lay the foundation to put more processes on autopilot.

We work with businesses that are starting this journey every day. We help them by providing visibility into all of their disjointed data and turn it into precise, actionable insights to drive companies to lasting profitability. BUCSanalytics helps companies by facilitating the real-time dissemination of information to empower all levels of a business to make better decisions, faster. And isn’t that we want in every facet of our lives—the opportunity to free up our time to apply it with greater purpose.