According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, what I described with this skiing experience is known as flow state, defined as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” Csíkszentmihályi, who popularized the term in his 1990 book, notes the mental state of flow involves “Being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
If skiing does not mean much to you, this complete immersion in an experience could occur while you are singing in a choir, dancing, reading a good book or analyzing data! Moments such as these provide flashes of intense living against the dull background of everyday life.
Feeling at your best and perform your best while analyzing data
We are all capable of reaching that state of “flow” of effortless concentration and enjoyment. I have been in the zone, either working alone or sometimes with a team, while we felt we were “on gas cooking ideas” and developing new features for the product. And the feeling was absolutely awesome!
According to Csíkszentmihályi, there are ten factors that accompany the experience of flow. So, what can you do to increase your chances of achieving flow? Csíkszentmihályi states that flow happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable, so it acts as a magnet for learning new skills and increasing challenges.
When I think about his explanations in his book, I believe as we get into the age of AI, the use of augmented technologies is going to assist humans to be “in the zone” more frequently and effortlessly. With the advancement in the artificial intelligence, the machines now learn user preferences and behaviors. They automate repetitive tasks. The technology guides the users by providing information on what to do and how to do it. Overall, it helps reduce cognitive burden, hence enabling us to align our skills more effectively with the goals of the task in hand.
Getting into “Analytics Flow” with Qlik Augmented Intelligence capabilities
At Qlik, our goal is to develop analytics capabilities and experiences that make our users perform their best while analyzing data and making decisions. We believe Augmented Intelligence (AI) plays an important role getting our users “into the zone”. That is why, we deeply integrate AI capabilities into the user experiences across the whole analytics life cycle with the goal to create effortless analysis, where the machine augments users’ data literacy and analytics skills, lowering analytics barriers and engaging users to get answers from data.
I would like to give you a few examples of AI capabilities from Qlik Sense September release supporting Flow state. In this release, we introduced Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities to the Qlik Cognitive Engine. It is an exciting feature supporting natural language search in Insight Advisor. The capability not only enables users ask their questions in natural language but engages them with Qlik’s unique interactive dashboarding capability where the insights are generated within user’s analysis context. This creates a seamless flow where the user can start with her question, explore the insights generated in Insights Advisor, make selections and seamlessly continue her analysis on a dashboard to see the full story.
Associative Insights capability has also been improved in this release. It gives the user peripheral vision on the data, as Qlik Cognitive Engine analyzes all of the associations on behalf of the user, surfacing new unknown insights based on the analysis context.
Qlik Cognitive Engine’s unique capability for understanding user’s analysis context combined with the new Natural Language Processing capability in Insights Advisor cultivates flow and creates effortless analysis so that every user with any skillset can conduct analysis and make fact-based decisions.