No-touch planning: Fact or fiction?

Make no mistake: No-touch planning, where humans are increasingly out of the loop, is fast becoming the new normal in forecasting and planning.

Data, AI, machine learning: Break-speed technological innovations are having a huge impact in our field. But what does it mean for planners?

More than 500 participants from leading companies, universities and application vendors met to share their ideas, as no-touch (read: no humans) is set to be the biggest trend in forecasting and planning highlighted at EyeOn’s International Planning Inspiration Day 2019 (PID 2019) at the Amsterdome in Amsterdam.

Indeed, it was standing room only at the kick-off to this knowledge and networking festival, which is all about inspiring, innovating and implementing. EyeOn senior consultant Joost Rongen noted that the Amsterdome, a futuristic dome once dedicated to aviation that was symbolic of new technology and horizons, is the perfect place to ‘discover together where the latest technology will bring us and what it means for us as human beings.’

EyeOn managing partner Freek Aertsen says one thing it means for planners is that we need people with different skill sets—including more analysts, mathematicians and data scientists. ‘In due time, all repetitive, boring tasks will be automated,’ he says. ‘Sixty percent of planning is repetitive and that will be replaced by computers. What’s left is the much richer stuff, such as creative decision-making in ambiguous situations. These things are difficult to replace by computers.’

Aertsen says that is a good thing for improved planning performance. He also stresses the role of sustainability ‘in the broader sense of making sure technology is being used for the good of the people.’ Using data in an ethical way is a high priority in the fast-changing planning field.

An interactive exercise at the kick-off illustrated the networking nature of PID 2019. Attendees were given white and red lights and told to shine the white when they agreed with a statement and red when they disagreed. In response to the statement, ‘Companies are willing to share relevant information across the chain,’ the majority of audience members flashed their red lights. But in fact, companies are willing to share information and want to do more of it. It is just a question of how. They will have a chance at the PID 2019, as planners share the ways they are innovating and implementing the balance between technology and humans.

Lauren Comiteau
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