“AI must be viewed in a holis­tic man­ner”

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) is touch­ing new heights across all ver­ti­cals, in­clud­ing con­sumer ser­vices, e-com­merce, mo­bile phones, life sci­ences and man­u­fac­tur­ing, among oth­ers. But how will AI trans­form it­self over time? Ar­jun Vish­wanathan, as­so­ciate dir

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Ar­jun Vish­wanathan, as­so­ciate direc­tor, emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies, IDC In­dia

Q

What are the lat­est trends in the world of AI? IDC pre­dicts that by 2018, 75 per cent of en­ter­prise and ISV de­vel­op­ment will in­clude cog­ni­tive, AI or ma­chine learn­ing func­tion­al­ity in at least one ap­pli­ca­tion, in­clud­ing all busi­ness an­a­lyt­ics tools. The adop­tion of AI so­lu­tions is set to grow at a fast pace, es­pe­cially in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion (ex­clud­ing Ja­pan) (APEJ). More than half of the or­gan­i­sa­tions in this re­gion are plan­ning to adopt AI within a five-year time­line.

Q

What are your ob­ser­va­tions on the evo­lu­tion of AI? Global spend­ing on cog­ni­tive and AI so­lu­tions will con­tinue to see sig­nif­i­cant cor­po­rate in­vest­ment over the next sev­eral years, achiev­ing a com­pound an­nual growth rate (CAGR) of 54.4 per cent through 2020 when rev­enues will be more than US$ 46 bil­lion. Around 59 per cent of or­gan­i­sa­tions plan to make new soft­ware in­vest­ments in cog­ni­tive or AI tech­nolo­gies, whereas 45 per cent will make new in­vest­ments in hard­ware, IT ser­vices and busi­ness ser­vices. Data ser­vices have the low­est rank in all the cat­e­gories. Over­all, IDC fore­casts that world­wide rev­enues for cog­ni­tive and AI sys­tems will reach US$ 12.5 bil­lion in 2017, an in­crease of 59.3 per cent over 2016.

Q

In what ways can AI be­come the ic­ing on the cake for en­ter­prises mov­ing to­wards dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion (DX)? The adop­tion sta­tus of cog­ni­tive/AI cor­re­lates highly with the in­for­ma­tion DX

ma­tu­rity of the or­gan­i­sa­tions. More or­gan­i­sa­tions that adopted AI so­lu­tions have moved into the later stages of in­for­ma­tion DX ma­tu­rity, which is then man­aged and op­ti­mised by AI. To pro­mote dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion that utilises IoT and cog­ni­tive sys­tems, it is im­por­tant for user com­pa­nies to cul­ti­vate an ‘ag­ile’ mind­set. For in­stance, it is nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine the ROI while us­ing IoT and cog­ni­tive sys­tems in ac­tual sit­u­a­tions.

Q

How do you see the growth of ma­chine learn­ing and deep learn­ing in the grow­ing space of AI? IDC pre­dicts that by 2019, all ef­fec­tive IoT ef­forts will merge stream­ing an­a­lyt­ics with ma­chine learn­ing trained on data lakes and con­tent stores, ac­cel­er­ated by dis­crete or in­te­grated pro­ces­sors. An in­crease in the use of ma­chine learn­ing will lower re­liance on the pro­gram­matic model of de­vel­op­ment.

Q

There is a be­lief that AI will one day be­come a ma­jor rea­son for unem­ploy­ment in the IT world. What is your take on this? AI must be viewed in a holis­tic man­ner. Hav­ing said as much,

AI and cog­ni­tive de­vel­op­ments are ex­pected to make sig­nif­i­cant in­roads into hith­erto un­char­tered and mostly man­ual/hu­man do­mains. IDC pre­dicts that by 2022, nearly 40 per cent of op­er­a­tional pro­cesses will be self-heal­ing and self­learn­ing— min­imis­ing the need for hu­man in­ter­ven­tion or ad­just­ments. Ad­di­tion­ally, as IDC re­cently fore­casted, as much as 5 per cent of busi­ness rev­enues will come through in­ter­ac­tion with a cus­tomer's dig­i­tal as­sis­tant by 2019.

All this merely proves that AI will in­creas­ingly com­ple­ment busi­nesses in driv­ing new and more au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ences while also driv­ing busi­ness value.

Q

What are the ob­sta­cles slow­ing down the growth of AI nowa­days? The pri­mary bar­ri­ers to AI so­lu­tions in­clude a short­age of skill sets, an un­der­stand­ing of ven­dor so­lu­tions, gov­er­nance and reg­u­la­tory im­pli­ca­tions.

Q

Do you think com­pa­nies like Ap­ple, Face­book, Google and Mi­crosoft will take the cur­rent AI model to the next level in the fu­ture? Ama­zon, Google, IBM and Mi­crosoft cer­tainly have the largest mind­share in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion. But do­mes­tic plat­forms, such as Alibaba PAI and Baidu Pad­dlePad­dle are even bet­ter known in lo­cal mar­kets. Also, the

IBM Wat­son plat­form has a larger mind­share com­pared with that of other big­ger or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Q

Why should en­ter­prises fo­cus on en­abling AI ad­vances to move to­wards a prof­itable fu­ture? In­creased em­ployee pro­duc­tiv­ity and greater process au­to­ma­tion are the most com­mon ex­pec­ta­tions among or­gan­i­sa­tions adopt­ing or plan­ning to adopt AI so­lu­tions. AI is pre­sumed to bring sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness value to half of the or­gan­i­sa­tions in the APAC re­gion within two years. Cus­tomer ser­vice and sup­port are the busi­ness pro­cesses that re­ceive the most im­me­di­ate ben­e­fits, whereas sup­ply chain and phys­i­cal as­sets man­age­ment see the least ur­gency.

IDC pre­dicts that by 2022, nearly 40 per cent of op­er­a­tional pro­cesses will be self-heal­ing and self­learn­ing — min­imis­ing the need for hu­man in­ter­ven­tion or ad­just­ments.

Ar­jun Vish­wanathan, as­so­ciate direc­tor, emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies, IDC In­dia

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