CIOs must begin to formulate a more focused AI strategy and look for ways to use the technology to disrupt both their business practices and their industry.
Artificial intelligence (AI) isn't a new concept: It's been around for decades and has steadily marched forward. Today, many of the capabilities and features in computers, tablets and smartphones tap AI. The list includes things such as speech processing, image recognition and advanced analytics.
But AI is now moving forward at a furious rate. Fueled by advances in cloud computing, mobility, the internet of things (IoT), and neural networks that use GPUs to conduct machine learning, AI is redefining virtually every industry and every discipline.
A recent study conducted by consulting firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) found that 84 percent of companies are already using AI in some form or another. In addition, 62 percent of respondents said that AI is necessary for staying competitive.
Yet, it's critical to recognize that the environment is evolving, points out Satya Ramaswamy, vice president and global head of TCS Digital Enterprise. A few years ago, the data layer was the primary component of AI, he points out. The focus then was on identifying patterns and predicting things through smarter statistical processes.
But remarkable advances in deep learning—fueled by GPUs and neural nets—have introduced capabilities that more closely approximate the human brain. "These systems learn automatically," Ramaswamy says. "With the right coding and data science, they can take AI to a new level."
To be sure, AI can automate and improve customer service, sales functions, marketing, accounting, R&D and much more. The technology can automate mundane and manual processes, help employees work more productively, aid customers in the search for products and services, and ripple into robotics, drones and industrial manufacturing.
Yet, Ramaswamy says that AI is increasingly a tale of two enterprises: those that embrace it and those that dabble in it. The TCS survey found that 7 percent of the 835 organizations surveyed (with annual revenues averaging $20 billion) invest more than a quarter million dollars a year in AI, and 2 percent spend more than a billion.
The upshot? Forward-thinking CIOs must begin to formulate a more focused AI strategy and look for ways to use the technology to disrupt both their business practices and their industry.
The goal, Ramaswamy says, is to generate "constant and continual innovation. It's the thing that gives companies a competitive advantage and helps them create distance."