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The Future is AI – But Not Quite Yet…

"As yet, there’s no one big magical AI solution to the challenges facing IT teams"

By CBR Staff Writer

Businesses are taking Artificial intelligence (AI) extremely seriously. One of the five imperatives in its ContinousNEXT strategy, aimed at building momentum through digital transformation and beyond.

future is AI

Neil Kinson Chief of Staff, Redwood

Gartner predicts that, by 2020, AI will be among the top investment priorities for around a third of CIOs. But, its adoption is at an early stage. While more than half of CIOs have developed plans to implement AI technology, only around four percent have actually done so.

Much of this reticence may be due to unhelpful and long-held misconceptions the technology will become so sophisticated that machines will effectively take over the world. However, rather than resembling Kubrick’s megalomaniac computer, HAL 9000, what is a more accurate representation of how we see AI currently being used?

The ability to collect and organise data for actionable insight and intelligence and making people smarter, more effective and more productive makes AI more comparable to Tony Stark’s helpful butler J.A.R.V.I.S in today’s market.

Automating Decision-making

The true value of AI doesn’t necessarily lie in the technology itself, but in the volume and variety of data and information that it enables a business to exploit. The intelligence and insight that can be derived from this can lead to better decision-making.

Decisions that can be made in 30 seconds or less could arguably be easily automated, for example. If they don’t require a great deal of thought, judgment or cognition, they’re effectively a rule. Decisions that take longer than 30 seconds, on the other hand, may need to be supported by the insight that comes from analysing further information

This becomes more important the further up the value chain you go in an organisation. If a company’s board only meets every two months, for example, and its members aren’t able to gather the information necessary to make a strategic decision at a particular meeting, it can be a long time until that decision can be made with all the relevant information to hand.

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In that time, the business could fall behind its competitors, and lose any potential benefit or innovation that might arise from that decision’s outcome. However, with an AI solution automatically bringing together the required information, the decision-making process can be far more effective.

This is true throughout a business. By enabling employees to make better decisions and eliminate more mundane, rules-based tasks, AI can help increase an organisation’s overall efficiency and productivity, and can improve the lives of IT teams in particular.

Future is AI

In managing their mammoth workloads, IT departments will often try and apply agile methodologies as favoured by the software industry; AI is a natural fit here.

The technology is not maturing and developing at anywhere near the rate at which the hype and the market would suggest, however. Without an over-arching toolset or approach, IT teams are required to employ the start-up mentality and methodology of fail often and fail early, experimenting with many different initiatives.

Deploying chatbot technology, for example, will go some way to reducing the number of IT tickets generated. Applying tools and technologies such as Splunk that carry out log file analysis will help to identify, predict and pre-emptively manage incidents that might occur within the organisation’s infrastructure.

Using broad analytics and predictive tools will enable IT teams to identify areas for improvement. By visualising an organisation’s processes, it’s possible to create a digital twin upon which experiments can be carried out to identify where efficiencies can be delivered, saving both time and money on traditional methods.

It’s worth remembering too, that an IT team already has data within its ticketing systems. With the right tools and technologies in place, it’s possible to interrogate this data to identify the issues that are causing an organisation’s end-users the greatest frustration, and tackle them at their root.

A shift in mind-set is required. While it’s impressive to know that a computer can beat a person at Go, a game 1,000 times more complex than chess, it doesn’t make the job of an IT professional any easier.

Shifting Expectations

The next year or so will see a rebalancing of expectations. Many organisations leapt on the idea of “doing AI” for fear of being labelled Luddites. After all, if everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t we? As we’ve seen though, the market is far from mature, and the level of adoption is low.

As yet, there’s no one big magical AI solution to the challenges facing IT teams. There are, however, a vast number of different initiatives that CIOs can experiment with. They should take a step back and look past the hype and consider how AI can realistically deliver against meaningful and measurable business objectives.

Adopting the start-up mind-set of try, fail, pivot, and try something else, will make for a more manageable AI implementation, and one that will offer the efficiency and the agile delivery and management approach that IT teams desire.

Unlike HAL and his plans for full autonomy, J.A.R.V.I.S. was a faithful servant, whose role was to make his master’s life easier. Looking past the hype and the fear, it is apparent that AI, as it matures, will be here to serve, not to conquer.

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