Gartner is emphasizing algorithms, interconnections and relationships as the core of Digital Business this year at Symposium. This is a good start, but I think there are some missing pieces unless Gartner is redefining what an algorithm is in the digital world. In the past algorithms were the math formulas or calculations that help in problem solving. In this sense, algorithms are rising as important digital contributors, but I can see other contributors such as knowledge, cognition and context. Since digital is speeding up things, putting these other contributors in the mix is critical. This is why cognitive computing will catch on to go beyond just algorithms. Cogs and swarming agents will be additional contributors to the Digital Economy.
Knowledge is awareness or familiarity gained by experience of facts or situation. Knowledge takes in data, judgement and situations. Algorithms generally only work on data and are typically focused on a few situations. It usually takes judgement to decide where to apply an algorithm. Besides just facts or information, knowledge can be the skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
Cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. A result of cognition is a perception, sensation, notion, or intuition which may or may not result in an action. Cognitive services are not predictable algorithms, but may use inference, statistics and algorithms in combination. Cognitive services (COGs for short) will be as plentiful as algorithms in the Digital Economy.
Contexts are the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. Algorithms rarely consider context as they usually operate as a black box and are predictable. Contextually sensitive algorithms generally require knowledge and cognition to thrive beyond specific uses singularly or in combination with other algorithms.
I hope Gartner meant something far beyond the traditional meaning of algorithms, because I think it is a disservice to what Digital will become. I believe that along with algorithms, knowledge, experience and context will be necessary for technology to learn (machine learning) and to behave as software Agents & Cogs on behalf of people or the Internet of things (IoT). As these agents mature more intelligence will be added to these agents so the they swarm to serve to reach goals that represent desirable outcomes.
Additional Reading on Agents: