Market hype and growing interest in artificial intelligence (AI) are forcing established software vendors to introduce AI into their product strategy, creating considerable confusion in the process, according to Gartner. Analysts predict that by 2020, AI technologies will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product and service. As per Gartner, by 2020, AI will be a top five investment priority for more than 30% of CIOs.
AI refers to systems that change behaviors without being explicitly programmed, based on data collected, usage analysis and other observations. While there is a widely held fear that AI will replace humans, the reality is that today's AI and machine learning technologies can and do greatly augment human capabilities. Machines can actually do some things better and faster than humans, once trained; the combination of machines and humans can accomplish more together than separately.
To successfully exploit the AI opportunity, technology providers need to understand how to respond to three key issues:
1) Lack of differentiation is creating confusion and delaying purchase decisions
The huge increase in startups 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.
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, according to Gartner. 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.
2) Proven, less complex machine-learning capabilities can address many end-user needs
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.
3) Organisations lack the skills to evaluate, build and deploy AI solutions
More than half the respondents to Gartner's 2017 AI development strategies survey* indicated that the lack of necessary staff skills was the top challenge to adopting AI in their organisation.
The survey found organisations are currently 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.
* Online survey from April 5-21, 2017 among Gartner Research Circle members, a Gartner-managed panel comprising IT and business leaders. In total, 83 members completed the survey.