Even as recent as 2016, the term artificial intelligence was more to do with science than with business, but by mid-2017 the term, concept and the technology has gone mainstream defining businesses as they get ready to deal with the increasingly competitive scenario. The impact is so strong that the software vendors helping companies into the new paradigm of digital transformation are introducing AI into their products and solutions. In short, AI is defining their product strategy.
This was recently revealed by Gartner in its Hype Cycle. The Gartner analysts predict that by 2020, AI technologies will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product and service. According to the research agency, In January 2016, the term “artificial intelligence” was not in the top 100 search terms on gartner.com. By May 2017, the term ranked at No. 7, indicating the popularity of the topic and interest from Gartner clients in understanding how AI can and should be used as part of their digital business strategy. Gartner predicts that by 2020, AI will be a top five investment priority for more than 30 percent of CIOs.
“As AI accelerates up the Hype Cycle, many software providers are looking to stake their claim in the biggest gold rush in recent years,” said Jim Hare, research vice president at Gartner. “AI offers exciting possibilities, but unfortunately, most vendors are focused on the goal of simply building and marketing an AI-based product rather than first identifying needs, potential uses and the business value to customers.”
The market upheaval
According to Malcolm Frank, Executive VP, Strategy & Marketing, Cognizant, AI will bring the fourth industrial revolution, where machines will drive three possible changes â€“ machines will take over human jobs, or help people do things in a more effective way, or create new jobs altogether. He explained further, that going forward Cobots (collaborative robots) along with AI will help humans and businesses do things better.
But before that happens, Gartner sees a churn in the market especially because there is a huge increase in start-ups and established vendors all claiming to offer AI products. Market study shows that there are more than 1,000 vendors with applications and platforms describe themselves as AI vendors, or say they employ AI in their products. But that might not be the case â€“ there is still a lack of differentiation among the regular solution and those with AI. In fact, market experts are calling this trend AI-Washing. Explaining this situation Gartner’s Hare said, “Similar to greenwashing, in which companies exaggerate the environmental-friendliness of their products or practices for business benefit, many technology vendors are now “AI washing” by applying the AI label a little too indiscriminately. This widespread use of “AI washing” is already having real consequences for investment in the technology.”
To curb this situation, the best way for the solution providers is to build trust with end-user organisations. The CXOs within the organisations might be aware of the technology, and be clear of the concepts, but there is a still a lot of confusion regarding the actual deployment of the technology for digital transformation. Moreover, most of the organisations still lack the expertise to evaluate the AI-based solutions. More than half the respondents to Gartner’s 2017 AI development strategies survey indicated that the lack of necessary staff skills was the top challenge to adopting AI in their organisation.
So Hare advises, “Use the term ‘AI’ wisely in your sales and marketing materials. Be clear what differentiates your AI offering and what problem it solves. They should focus on building a collection of case studies with quantifiable results achieved using AI. Software vendors need to focus on offering solutions to business problems rather than just cutting-edge technology.”
The solutions that work
The Gartner survey on AI development strategies also found that organisations are currently seeking AI solutions that can improve decision making and process automation. Moreover, these organisations prefer to buy embedded or packaged AI solutions rather than build their own. Hare advises that AI solution providers should highlight how AI can step in to manage skills shortage within an enterprise, and how it can deliver faster business value than custom-built AI solutions.
As if taking this as a cue, HCL Technologies has announced its AI-based platform to help organisations redefine their business processes and IT systems based on AI. The company has launched Cognitive Orchestrated Process Autonomics (COPA) Platform for enterprise-wide process revamp and Transformation through Autonomics & Orchestration (TAO) for consulting enterprises on how to shift to AI. ” The success that we have seen in bringing the impact of AI to our enterprise customers, since we launched DRYiCE two years ago, has allowed us to amass an incredible amount of invaluable real world experience about the practical aspects of A.I applications. For enterprises looking to rebuild their systems on the foundation of AI, we have introduced next generation offerings and platforms, including a radical reimagining of the traditional role of robotic process automation through DRYiCE COPA and expert assessment and strategy consulting service DRYiCE TAO”, said Kalyan Kumar, CTO – IT Services, HCL Technologies.
According to Kumar, DRYiCE COPA platform brings together the best of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Orchestration, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the Natural Language Processing-enabled Cognitive Virtual Assistant – LUCY. COPA automates entire IT or Business Process chains end-to-end in a seamless way, delivering a ‘Unified Office’ experience to end users. TAO is an Autonomics & Orchestration assessment and strategy consulting service, helping organizations chart out a detailed and descriptive pathway to an AI-powered future.
To conclude, the market watchers feel that while the fear about machines replacing humans is real, and will happen in the coming years; but that does not mean that they will take over the jobs. What can actually be expected is that AI and Machine Learning will augment human capabilities. It is a fact that machines can do some things better and faster than humans, once trained; however the combination of machines and humans can accomplish more together than separately.