Late last year when we released our predictions for the coming year, it was really rather simple, since everything revolved around a common-theme: Artificial Intelligence (AI).
We boldly predicted that 2018 would be the year that AI moves from the planning stages to actual deployments on a wide scale in all industries – from manufacturing and government to insurance and financial services. And it isn’t just in large enterprises, but small-to-medium-sized businesses as well.
Already in the first month of the new year we’re seeing major companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google pushing their AI agendas; while developers are working hard to bring new AI capabilities to consumer services, such as WhatsApp.
It’s no wonder the AI mania is here. During 2017, companies were becoming more familiar with AI, kicking the tires and exploring its possibilities and how it could fit into their organizations. Their research showed them that AI can clearly play a big role in helping them improve customer service, get closer to their customers ad save costs in the long run.
According to Forrester Research in a recent report, 70 percent of enterprises expect to implement AI over the next 12 months, up from 51 percent in 2017.
As many companies learned in 2017, AI requires a complete transformation in how businesses operate, interact with customers and structure their human assets, so it’s no wonder that they weren’t willing to pull the trigger quite so quickly.
So now that a lot of the legwork is done in planning AI strategies and 2018 is becoming the year it’s all being put into action, what were the key motivating factors for its growth?
A focus on the end-user experience.
With advances in cloud, mobile and social technologies, end-users not only expect a fast and easy digital experience, but they expect businesses to understand their specific needs and preferences. AI is helping companies meet these needs, with chatbots, for example, that immediately respond to and understand specific customers 24/7, and can tailor products and services that reflect this understanding.
The IoT explosion.
Sensors that are attached to products out in the field are communicating key information back to computers and bringing new insights into product design and development, but they are also adding more data to data-deluged organizations. Deep learning tools are enabling AI algorithms to make sense of this data and identify patterns that would be impossible with the human eye.
Concerns about a changing workforce.
As robotic process automation and other technologies have enabled robots to perform many predictable, process-driven tasks, there has been growing concern about technology replacing workers. But while AI may replace jobs, it also provides an opportunity for many workers to transform their roles to more strategic ones to keep pace with a constantly evolving, competitive marketplace.
Traction of big data and cloud.
In 2017 more companies moved directly to the cloud from on premise or hybrid environments. Adoption of cloud computing, coupled with complex sources of big data, is supporting the growth of AI. In a synergistic relationship, the cloud helps AI gather the information it needs to learn, while AI provides the information that feeds the cloud more sources of data.
All types of cognitive, AI-based capabilities are underway — from chatbots that can understand human emotions to deep-learning algorithms that can identify objects in a city. As the year unfolds, we’ll continue to see new AI-based innovation with smarter applications augmenting and in some cases replacing human work; new partnerships will be forged that will enable more powerful AI development; and industry by industry, AI will change the way companies operate. It’s an exciting new year in the computer industry, so enjoy the ride.