Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, whose views I greatly respect, has long been a cheerleader for the power that technology brings to innovation. As the former SVP of IBM, who ultimately helped steer Big Blue into the Internet era, he ought to be. However, lately, he's been expressing some reservations about the role of big data analytics in decision making. In particular, relying on automation to make decisions for us.

For low-level operational decisions, the application of technology to sift through big data and run it through algorithms makes perfect sense. Renewing a policy with updates and price adjustments or flagging an instance of potential fraud, for example, are straightforward processes that can be handled by the machines. However, high-level strategic decisions – such as expanding the number of claims adjustors for a certain region, or opening new offices – may always require human guidance.

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