What is a hapticioner or how do we imagine the unknown?
“Thank you for joining our strategy workshop”, I welcomed the management team. “We are in a hybrid setting with our colleagues in north and south America joining us virtually. As you know we’ve been working on new ways to gain insights into our businesses over the last year and have built up a team of hapticioners.”
The white room in which we got together resembled very much to the immersive experience rooms we had been using for a couple of years now. Only that the projectors were missing and that the walls were padded to prevent anyone from getting hurt while trying to interact with the scenery.
Our data analytics and visualisation team was well versed when it came to showing data on 2d-Screens and even got into 3D-Models lately, but the possibility to actually interact with the data put us in front of a new challenge. We needed people who could invent things we did not know yet – how do you show a business process? How the result of complex calculations? How do you create a user interface to change 3D-Models and how do you animate them? How do people feel and understand what the data they see means?
Many of the answeres and tools were available, but we needed to bring it all together to make the Matrix happen in real-life. The technology behind combined classical technology and high-performance computing systems but as well machine learning. The ML helped to create and shape the experience and ensured at the same time, that the new visual and haptical models were understandable to the users:
“Let’s start” I suggested, and the room went dark. The lasers came to live and projected a bar chart with last year’s performance figures in the middle of the room.
We made the experience that it was important to start with forms the audience was used to. If you jump off into the unknown straight away, you lose people along the way.
Lisa, the lead of our hapticioners team started to explain the meaning of the different elements of the chart. Then she touched the bars and modified the scale to point out the relationships between the bars.
“Let’s look at the dependencies..” were her words when she swiped away the bar chart. What she now crafted using her hands and the ML of the room showed how our supply chain worked – as a hologram, across the whole room.
She took the group along the process, walking through the room and explaining the different elements.
“What happens when we get short on raw material”, someone asked.
“Let’s simulate that. Let’s assume that we have a shortage in north America with our main supplier”, she suggested and touched with her hands the part of the hologram representing the flow of raw material to our different production sites.
The part was enlarged, and Lisa added a time-series control for the future. She simply drew a line with her fingertips representing the decline in supply in the time-series. With a snip of her fingers, the part was reduced to its original size. “Time series future” she spoke out loud and a new control opened in front of her. Again, she used her hands to describe an interval, adding “52 weeks simulation” to the room control and “go”.
The model started to become alive, showing how the decrease of supply impacted the different elements of the network.
“Let’s add a stock site in north America plant one”, one of the remote participants suggested. I was surprised to hear her voice – I had not noticed her joining the workshop, but there she was, standing right behind me.
Lisa added the stock site and we ran through a few simulations, using the classical analytics view on one of the walls to track results and variants, playing with different parameters.
The result of the simulations was the basis for our investment proposal for the coming year, among other twists to our corporate strategy.
Is this a way in which we might perform business planning in the future? Will we be able to overcome the cumbersome VR-Glasses and gloves to interact directly with 3D-representations of data and process?
And – how will those look like? Imagining a supply chain is relatively easy as physical goods movement is involved, but how will we visualise free operating cash flow in a hologram?
One thing I’m pretty sure of though is that the field of “haptifying” data will become key to when we look into the future – and the “hapticioners” need analytical, architectural, and business skills.
All images are created with https://huggingface.co/spaces/kakaobrain/karlo