Brendan Coveney, President of 4D Inc., once remarked that the business of the future will consist of a person, a dog, and a computer. The purpose of the computer will be to run the business and the purpose of the dog will be to keep the person away from the computer.

Fortunately, we’re not there – yet. But we are at a point where we could be using our computers to optimize our businesses much more effectively. Many businesses are still in the “steam shovel” era of business optimization, using only spreadsheets to track and improve business performance. Certainly, this is far better than doing it by hand but not nearly as powerful as the modern tools that they could be using.

“But what’s wrong with spreadsheets?” you might ask. Nothing. Spreadsheets are great but they still require a tremendous amount of manual labor to prepare, maintain, and audit. Fall down in any one of those tasks and the value of the spreadsheet and the data quickly deteriorates. And so do the business functions depending on it.

Instead of spreadsheets, what if you were using applications that were already set up to prepare, maintain, and audit your data as well as perform complex analyses of your data in just a few mouse clicks?

So now you can move beyond spreadsheets into applications that do much of the left brain quantitative drudge work for us so we can direct our thinking to creatively extracting more valuable concepts, ideas, and wisdom from our numbers and data. And we can do that by using algorithms.

But before you say, “I don’t want to have to learn algorithms to do my business analyses,” let me assure you that you won’t have to. The idea is to have applications designed and built for you that let you focus on running your business, not on building applications or customizing spreadsheets.

For example, there’s a clever little “artificial intelligence” algorithm for finding the shortest distance between multiple points called “the ant algorithm.” The ant algorithm is based on the way an ant colony learns the shortest distance from the anthill to a food source. Now you don’t even need to know the name of this algorithm or where it originated; all you need to know is that it can help you find an optimum solution when applied to a particular business problem. An elegant and well-designed application will do this type of work for you without you needing to learn how to program or write spreadsheet macros.

In this blog, I’ll be writing about the intersection of business, science, design, and technology as a place where we can use well-designed technology to do far more than just crunch numbers and make pretty graphics. We’ll explore other best practices and innovations that business are using to optimize their processes, products, and markets like we do with our own project portfolio management tool, Optsee®.

What are the best uses of your company’s dollars and resources? Optsee® can tell you. Optsee® is a project portfolio management and budgeting optimization tool unlike any that you’ve ever seen. Click here to find out more.