Wednesday, January 2, 2019
By Asoke K Laha
Over the past decade, the world of information technology has made tremendous innovative strides that in turn, have impacted other industries, such as retail, manufacturing, and healthcare. However, none have been as pronounced and as influential as artificial intelligence. For better or for worse, it is here to stay.
The actual concept of artificial intelligence has been around for centuries. Dated back to antiquity, the Greek myths of Pygmalion and Hephaestus discussed the idea of artificial beings and intelligent robots. In 1950, Alan Turing published a groundbreaking paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” that discussed how to build intelligent machines. Fast forward to today where it is predicted that global spending on AI could reach close to $58 billion by 2021.
Artificial intelligence has already made a transformative impact across industries, with the introduction of self-driving cars and trucks, chatbots that can hold natural conversations, and intelligent personal assistants, such as Siri and Amazon Echo. The obsession with AI appears to be everywhere, at an all-time high.
An industry that is receiving some of the biggest gains from AI is information technology. In fact, some of the most in-demand skills currently include deep learning, natural learning processing (NLP), and machine processing (MP).
Here are a few areas where we already see Artificial Intelligence playing a big role in transforming IT:
Chatbots: Advances in artificial intelligence have made chatbots more powerful than ever. While they have been around for some time, chatbots are now more intelligent, as they are able to understand the meaning of what is being typed or said. According to a survey done by CITI research, up to 80% of respondents replied they are planning to use some type of chatbot by 2020.
The opportunities afforded by chatbots within an organization are endless – from improving customer service (key!) to automating time-consuming tasks, such as ordering supplies or invoicing customers. Organizations have started to integrate chatbots as part of their larger digital transformation strategy – for example, HR teams can use chatbots to address queries from employees.
Big Data: There is a growing consensus that artificial intelligence and big data are becoming closely interconnected. In a way, one can see that recent advances in AI have been largely thanks to the explosion of data. Corporations that have access to large volumes and sources of data are able to feed AI algorithms, which in turn, can understand and analyze patterns and behaviors.
The relationship between big data and AI is one that is cyclical – data is feed into an AI platform, making it smarter, and so on and so forth. As AI becomes a viable option for automating tasks, the importance of big data will continue to grow.
The Internet of Things: Like big data, there is also recent chatter pointing to the convergence of AI and IoT. The traditional approach to computing at times cannot handle the complexity and kind of data needed to unlock the full potential of IoT – these changes when one brings AI and machine learning into the mix. Let’s take an example of a retailer – using a combination of IoT and AI, they would be able to get a more in-depth knowledge of types of customers entering the store and their respective buying behavior.
While there is great excitement and promise to what AI can bring in to the world of IT and other sectors, there is also understandable fear that AI might replace jobs in the near future. This fear is not misplaced – with automation, there is a significant possibility that certain types of jobs can be replaced. AI will replace significant groups of projects, which need low-level programmers. Apart from jobs, security issues will continue to pose huge risks in the tech space, prompting the need for companies to continue building increasingly secure systems.
Artificial intelligence is growing an astronomical rate – it will be very exciting to see what the future holds in store for us.
(The author is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Interra Information Technologies, Inc. – a Global Software Services organization that delivers innovative business and technology solutions to Fortune 1000 companies.)