Market analyst firm, Gartner, predicts that Artificial Intelligence will be a constant in every software by 2020.
In January 2016 the firm stated that the term “artificial intelligence” was not in the top 100 search terms on gartner.com indicating that it was not a major concern to the ICT industry. This, however, has drastically changed as by May 2017, the term ranked at number seven on the website. This increase shows the growing 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, it says.
Gartner also predicts that by 2020, AI will be a top-five investment priority for more than 30% 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,” says 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.”
According to Gartner, AI refers to systems that change behaviours without being explicitly programmed, based on data collected, usage analysis and other observations. It points out that while there is a widely held fear AI will replace humans, the reality is that today’s AI and machine learning technologies can and do greatly augment human capabilities.
Machines can do some things better and faster than humans, once trained; the combination of machines and humans can accomplish more together than separately, the market analyst firm says.
It points out the huge increase in start-ups and established vendors all claiming to offer AI products without any real differentiation is confusing buyers. More than 1 000 vendors with applications and platforms describe themselves as AI vendors, or say they employ AI in their products, it notes.
“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,” Hare says.
“This widespread use of ‘AI washing’ is already having real consequences for investment in the technology. To build trust with end-user organisations, vendors should focus on building a collection of case studies with quantifiable results achieved using AI. Use the term ‘AI’ wisely in your sales and marketing materials. Be clear what differentiates your AI offering and what problem it solves.”
More than half the respondents to Gartner’s 2017 AI development strategies survey indicated the lack of necessary staff skills was the top challenge to adopting AI in their organisation.
The survey found organisations are seeking AI solutions that can improve decision-making and process automation. If they had a choice, most organisations would prefer to buy embedded or packaged AI solutions rather than trying to build a custom solution.
“Software vendors need to focus on offering solutions to business problems rather than just cutting-edge technology,” Hare says. “Highlight how your AI solution helps address the skills shortage and how it can deliver value faster than trying to build a custom AI solution in-house.”
The report also highlighted that a logical approach to AI needs to be taken by companies as advancements in AI, such as deep learning, are getting a lot of buzz but are obfuscating the value of more straightforward, proven approaches. Gartner recommends that vendors use the simplest approach that can do the job over cutting-edge AI techniques.