In bits and pieces, the next wave of business technology is creeping up on us. Intelligent systems will change the ways we work and live far more than all previous technological developments combined. But few people, and even fewer organizations, are thinking strategically about intelligent systems.

In order to think strategically about intelligent systems, we first have to understand what we mean by “intelligent Systems.” We are NOT talking about a 20th Century science fiction notion of Artificial Intelligence. This isn’t I, Robot.

What we are talking about is systems that help us make better decisions, and can do so faster, more accurately, more flexibly, and at lower cost than traditional systems. Improved decision making is the linchpin to success in business and in life. To accomplish anything, people, and organizations, must act. But, we can’t act until we decide what action to take, when, and how.

Until 10 – 15 years ago, the amount of information we had on which to base our decisions was extremely limited. But the explosion in the last decade, and especially in the past 2 -3 years, of ubiquitous computing, i.e., the Internet, the Web, the Cloud, and Mobile, has stood that paradigm on its head.

We now have access to more information than we can possibly comprehend. In many cases, this glut of data has made it even more difficult to make decisions than in the past. If we are ever to take full advantage of the flood of data on the Information Superhighway, we’re going to need help.

This is where intelligent systems come into play. Intelligent systems can continuously monitor relevant data, alert us when circumstances dictate that we make a decision or take an action, and advise us regarding those decisions and actions. By doing so, in the 21st Century, intelligent systems will have an impact on our society and global economy analogous to the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th Centuries and the deployment of the electrical grid and the Communications Revolution in the 20th Century.

Stay tuned. In future posts, I’ll explain more about how intelligent systems work. And, even more importantly, talk about some of the important ways in which they’ll be used.