So why all the excitement now? Finally, AI has caught up with the hype and is starting to overtake human imagination.
Made possible by a convergence of technologies – namely big data, secure storage, machine-learning and graphics processing unit processors – it is becoming a game-changing accelerator for innovation. AI, even in its relative immaturity, is arming business leaders with the tools to remap and transform every element of their organisation.
Early adopters are gaining significant ground over their competitors, and the gap between AI pioneers and laggards is quickly widening. It is already having an incredible impact on many industries and society as a whole, whether enabling smarter healthcare and better genomic testing, for example, or providing a greater understanding and improved management of everything from crop disease to inner-city traffic.
AI is fuelled by data and there is huge untapped potential. Sitting back and waiting for AI to be perfected, though, is not advised. Put simply, if you are not ready for AI, it will still affect your organisation, because you can be certain that rivals will embrace it and leave you behind.
Indeed, industry analysts Gartner estimate that AI will be built into almost every new software update to hit the market by 2020. It’s important to stress that the industrial revolution powered by AI will neither be earth shattering nor something business leaders should fear. The reality is AI will free humans from motivation-sapping, mundane tasks. It will allow human resources to focus on creative, strategic and business critical projects. Ultimately, everything that can be automated will be.
A high majority of C-level decision-makers think that using AI and machine-learning to derive intelligence from data is going to be critical for their organisation in the future, according to our newly published MIT Technology Review survey, which explores the vast potential and challenges businesses must address to unlock data intelligence with AI.
According to the report, 85 per cent of the 2,357 global executives surveyed believe AI developments will mean that their teams are going to be able to dedicate more time to thinking creatively about the business challenges they face.
However, 74 per cent of the respondents feel that people in their organisations underestimate the value of data – and this is a telling statistic. Many business leaders are unsure about how they will generate value while on their AI journey. In limited use-cases this can be achieved by directly using advanced analytics, machine-learning and domain-specific AI.
Great value can also be gained, in a much broader sense, by organisations leveraging their data. This is an essential step en route to harnessing AI, because putting data at the heart of the decision-making process will enable organisations to be more effective, and man and machine can combine to achieve a much higher level of optimisation.
Our research shows the three biggest barriers to moving to better data management are uncertainty about existing data infrastructure, privacy and confidentiality concerns, and budget. Fortunately, we have reached the point where, with technological advancement, these can be overcome.
In March, for instance, Pure Storage teamed up with NVIDIA and launched the industry’s first comprehensive AI-Ready Infrastructure (AIRI). It’s a plug-and-play device that is purpose built to enable data architects, scientists and business leaders to activate AI at scale for every enterprise.
Data-hungry AI has levelled the playing field by providing organisations of all shapes and sizes with new opportunities to transform and augment their core processes. In the near future the most successful businesses will not necessarily be the biggest companies or the ones with the best marketing. Rather, they will be the ones that prioritise adaptability and innovation.
This is why, in the increasing number of conversations I have about AI, I urge executives to focus on investing in equipping their organisation with the tools and infrastructure to manage and curate data. AI technologies are becoming more readily available, so organisations need to try them out and see the competitive advantage they give their business.
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