Businesses have realized that it is technology that is going to help them compete. However, there are a lot of strategic technologies that came out, add to these the current ones that are already dominating the market.
Very few businesses would have the money, time, and expertise to invest in strategic technologies out there. Also, identifying specific technologies would be counter-productive. You need to know how each technology would be used in tomorrow’s business environments in order to appreciate them better.
So what are the trends you should know if you want to give your business a strategic edge?
Starting your strategic technologies journey with artificial intelligence
Did you know that Gartner has found out that most companies are only starting to explore artificial intelligence? According to the research firm, around 6 out of every 10 companies are currently investigating, gathering information, and developing their artificial intelligence strategy. Only 25% are piloting their AI initiatives, while 6% are in the process of implementing these initiatives. Only 4% of the companies they have surveyed are currently using artificial intelligence today.
The allure of using artificial intelligence to improve decision making, to reinvent ecosystems and models, and to re-haul the customer experience is what makes businesses sit up and take notice technology. But if you are thinking of robots that can replace your secretary and do everything a human can do, then you should know that this kind of artificial intelligence is currently more in the realm of science fiction. This type of artificial intelligence, dubbed as general AI, is more of science fiction right now rather than a possible option for enterprises.
Business should focus on narrow AI, a highly specialized solution that uses machine learning. Machine learning algorithms should be carefully chosen for this particular task, such as a machine learning to understand language and be able to give the most accurate responses.
This is to say that for companies that are currently investigating how artificial intelligence would help their businesses, they should not focus on having robots replacing their employees, but instead on what business results could be improved by solutions that leverages narrow artificial intelligence.
Intelligent analytics and intelligent apps
In the coming years, it is expected that all apps you are using would be using some form of artificial intelligence. AI would be running the show, silently from the background. It does not matter whether it’s a gaming app, a productivity app, or a social networking app – it will be using artificial intelligence to power its features.
The promise of intelligent apps is not because it is “sexy” to include AI in your applications, but because you would need it to add business value. Most common use cases for AI would include intelligent processes, advanced analytics, and better user experiences. Intelligent apps use machine learning on historical and real-time data to deliver a personalized experience to its users.
If you look at how virtual customer assistants and enterprise advisors work now, you can get an idea of how artificial intelligence will make apps better. They add a smart intermediary between the user and the systems, making way for positive changes in how they do their work and how their organizations are structured.
You do not use artificial intelligence to replace people. You only use it to augment human activity. One area that illustrates this perfectly is augmented analytics. This growing area uses machine learning to automate data preparation, insight sharing and discovery, and reporting. Its output will be used by users to do their work.
Today, when something happens that you want to preserve, you would need to take out your smartphone in order to capture the moment. The problem is, if you do not remember to fish out the camera, you would never get a photo or video of that moment. Sometimes, the moment has passed before you remember to take the photo. Even then, it is either that you would not be included in the picture or settle for a selfie, with an awkward angle that may not be the way you want to remember that moment.
A smart camera is all you need. It can detect a moment that is worth capturing. It can automatically start recording a video or take a photo, allowing you to be in the moment. That is how intelligent things work. These devices use artificial intelligence to operate on their own even in an unsupervised environment. Other examples include robot vacuums that clean your floors on their own, finding their way around furniture and knowing where to go next. Or tea leaves harvester that uses a robotic arm to select the finest leaves to pluck. In the future, you might see more of machine learning and artificial intelligence in smart healthcare devices, autonomous harvesters, and everything in between.
The proliferation of intelligent things will make way for an intelligent things network, where individual devices work with one another. This may be done autonomously, like your robot vacuum turning off your TV while it does its work or with human intervention. The military has already been toying with this idea, looking at the possibility of using a swarm of drones to either defend or attack targets. But we have yet to see anything in the consumer space.
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Looking at how artificial intelligence would affect and change the way things work at present and in the future is a good way to appreciate strategic technologies. It also helps to see what possible use cases are there, allowing you to come up with a value proposition for your own business. While only a small portion of businesses has deployed AI for their operations; it is going to change soon. Are you going to be left behind while your competitors make their machineries smarter?
Machine learning, artificial intelligence, intelligent things, and analytics, might be all big strategic technologies, but these are not the only things you should keep in mind.
Photo courtesy of Hyper Island Singapore (Flickr).