AI, Machine Learning: Enterprise Mobility's Future

No, employees won’t be walking around wearing virtual reality headsets to accomplish business critical tasks any time soon. But that doesn’t mean artificial intelligence, augmented or mixed reality, and machine learning won’t have an impact on the enterprise before too long.

In fact, many companies are already digging their heels into the new technology and leveraging its powers to enhance workflows and increase productivity. So are these new technologies disrupting business for the better?

“These technologies are beginning to get a foothold (in the enterprise),” said Jeff Wallace, President of Global Kinetics. “It all comes under the big data umbrella; what can you do about the data – that’s where machine learning comes in.”

The mixed reality market is primed for growth and is forecasted to see a $6.86 billion value by 2024, thanks to a 76.8% CAGR in the hardware segment of the market. “The field as a whole – spatial and contextual computing – is going to be truly transformative,” said Ryan Martin, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “[The mixed reality market] will take us out of the four corners of a screen, and enable us to be heads up and hands free.”

Wallace continued to say the future of IT jobs will be in data analytics and data science, where employees will need to learn how to interact with computers.

Of course on the consumer end capabilities in the form of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana, among others, has been billed as technology that enables human assistance and allows users to be more hands-free. In the enterprise, however, that aid must be used to further the capabilities of workers long-term, not just fix a one time issue or obstacle.

Along with AI, augmented reality and machine learning are gaining steam as companies look for ways to reduce TCO and shorten the production lifecycle. For instance, a field service employee driving a big rig may be able to use his or her mobile device to get a live look at a malfunctioning engine, and with augmented reality could find the issue through an intelligent overlay or heat sensor that pinpoints the area in need of repair.

While augmented reality can enhance worker production, machine learning is setting the course for better security and uncovering data that the most adept analysts haven’t even considered. New waves of authentication processes, specifically continuous authentication - whereby a device is using biometrics and keystrokes to create a stronger algorithm to define its actual user and keep others out - is just one of many machine learning capabilities being used to strengthen software solutions.

Machines or Humans?

By empowering machines to become smarter and assist the workforce with business critical tasks, the fear of human replacement has become palpable.

“The pace of technology is accelerating,” said Wallace. “What it took us 10 years to accomplish with the Internet is now being done in half that time with smartphones. People are adopting these technologies quicker and quicker; the younger you are, the more flexible you are. They’ll just pivot and pick up another skill, and they’ll get better and faster at pivoting.”

While Google is making its footprint in cloud and machine learning, Microsoft has clearly shown its stake in the game, and IBM’s Watson continues to be a strong placeholder for the concept of AI, startups are becoming native creators and users of the new technologies, fully integrating those processes into their own workflows and solutions, Wallace said.

“As a country we need to retool and reskill,” Wallace said. For example, the mechanic normally under the hood of a company truck may want to begin steering his or her focus toward working on the augmented reality technology used to help the aforementioned truck driver whose engine malfunctioned during a cross-country delivery.

While the use and implementation of new technologies is eliminating jobs, careers are also being born for those who need to build those systems and solutions.

What’s your take on the state of these technologies in 2017? Enterprise Mobility Exchange would appreciate your insight on its Industry Insight 2017: A Global Perspective survey, which can be completed here