Four keys to embracing artificial intelligence and machine learning

Everywhere you look, from the consumer tech at the CES show to the cognitive capabilities of IBM Watson, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the innovation everybody’s after in 2018. Making technology more responsive and intuitive than ever before, and uncovering insights from data that were previously out of the reach of humans, AI holds the potential to transform countless areas of our businesses and lives.

As a service provider, of course, all this is exciting news for you as enterprise clients across a variety of sectors and industries clamour to get a piece of the AI action. But with such a wide range of possibilities, getting AI implementation right for each client won’t be easy, and certainly won’t lend itself towards a one-size-fits-all approach.

In this blog, we’ll highlight four key points to consider as you explore the world of AI and machine learning, so that you can make the most of the opportunity for your clients – and for your own business, too.


Understand its limitations

It’s really important to remember that AI is a relatively new technology that’s still developing. As a result, some functions are far more developed and intuitive than others: for example, natural language processing of written text has been commonplace for a few years, while the same principle of voice recognition and analytics still relatively new.

According to researchers at Constellation Research, one key innovation set to come on stream this year will be automated modelling, which will open up the world of AI much more for business uses that aren’t technically minded. From a service provider perspective, keeping abreast of these new technologies can be a major business differentiator – and will be much easier to manage alongside an expert partner – as long as you don’t expect too much from AI too soon.


Target the right industries

AI, at this moment in time at least, is not an automatic catch-all game-changer for every single industry on the planet. Therefore, it wouldn’t make any sense for a provider to integrate AI into a solution ‘as standard’ and apply it as a universal answer to every enterprise’s problem.

Research by McKinsey indicates that finance and communications are likely to be the most receptive industries to AI over the next few years, combining strong rates of adoption along with high rates of investment. Among others leading the chase will be retail, as we featured in a blog on this site in early January.

So for service providers like you who can integrate AI into solutions that serve vital needs, these industries are where the rewards can be found.


Make sure AI use is transparent

As is the case with any new technology, managing the perception of clients and customers is a crucial consideration. And AI is no exception in that regard: after all, it isn’t some sort of magic wand that can do everything people expect of it, and it’s not the easiest tech in the world to explain to a non-IT person.

A significant section of the general public – and millennials, in particular – harbour concerns about the possibilities of AI and what it could be capable of doing with personal data in the future. This wariness will affect how your clients handle their customers; indeed, one software development guru believes that brands that can’t incorporate transparency into their interactive user interfaces are no more than two years from extinction.

That’s why it’s important for you, as a provider, to demonstrate to your clients what AI does for them and how it works, as well as you possibly can. Helping their understanding will therefore put them in a better position to soothe their customers’ fears.


Prepare for the security arms race

AI is a generally positive development in technology, but just because it’s causing a lot of excitement doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always going to be used for good.

Within the last 12 months, several significant cases of cybercrime based on AI have emerged – and caused serious damage and disruption. Ranging from smart botnets to voice fabrication, their level of sophistication is proving to be more than a match for enterprises and security systems that are being caught unawares.

If the criminals are using AI, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to defend against them without you or your clients having AI-based security provision available. That’s why considering the possible security impact and consequences should go hand-in-hand with any move into AI for your solutions.


The key takeaway

Ultimately, the possibilities for AI to transform enterprise tech in 2018 and beyond could be virtually limitless. New developments and capabilities in AI are coming on stream almost all the time, and each one brings potential advantages through differentiation for early adopters.

In such a competitive marketplace for providers, being highly proactive in embracing new innovations can therefore pay off big. But don’t get carried away – the right application for the right client at the right time will always be the most sustainable approach.

You can help your clients transform with the cognitive capabilities of Watson when you partner with IBM. 

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