Where Is Enterprise AI Right Now?

Artificial intelligence is all around us – we’re using it in ways we don’t even realize (hello, Autocorrect!) – so how does that pertain to the enterprise or business setting, and how can companies be the catalyst for widespread AI usage for the future of work?

Enterprise Mobility Exchange is looking at the state of artificial intelligence across the entire horizon in 2018, where it’s coming from, how it’s being used, and why it will be so important to embrace properly in the months and years to come. Different experts across various industries are weighing in with their view points and how they’re interpreting the evolution and need for artificial intelligence, not just for the betterment of information technology, but the process of workloads as a whole. Technology is no longer an accessory to business capabilities, rather, it’s the step stool in which companies are using to reach new heights.

So, where is artificial intelligence in the enterprise currently? How’s it being used, who’s using it, and where do we go from here?

“AI is a broad term used from everything like RPA to Deep Neural Networks,” said Nigel Willson, Global Strategist at Microsoft. “Over the last couple of years we have seen AI become more commoditized, such as in smart devices, in SaaS applications and in pre-trained deep learning models that are more accessible. There is something in AI for everyone – enterprises are likely to have a data science or analytics and AI team with deep skills looking to get the most out of every aspect of AI – but SMBs can also benefit. Through commoditization, they can easily build application through pre-built AI APIs, benefit from SaaS applications that are already using AI, or use familiar tools like Excel to call on machine learning models.”

See related: 7 Essential AI Terms: What Do They Mean?

The trickle effect from the enterprise level to SMBs may take some time, however, according to CCS Insight Vice President Nick McQuire.

“Until we have more AI infused in general applications and simple, off the shelf tools that can help SMBs build custom applications to take advantage of the technology, it will remain, for the moment at least, mainly a technology for the larger organization,” McQuire said. “But as we have seen from recent moves from Google AutoML, the technology’s ability to reach a wider developer audience is moving fast and will soon, in my view, be appropriate for smaller firms and even executives to develop custom uses for it.”

Willson believes SMBs should be on the AI train sooner than later, citing specific advantages.

“If we deter SMBs from evaluating and using what there is already available, it would put them at a disadvantage – with cloud technologies bringing the power of massive datacenters to individuals and small businesses they actually have an advantage of agility over larger organizations and likely lower run costs and faster speed to market – so they actually are the ones who could benefit the most from cloud and AI technologies,” he said.

See related: Your Company Isn’t Ready For AI

Like a fireworks display, dozens of various technologies are currently reaching new heights all at the same time, but are headed in different trajectories. One of those is enterprise mobility and its continuous expansion, albeit dependent on each industry’s definition and particular need.

So how can enterprise mobility and artificial intelligence play together for the good of the bottom line?

“I think predominantly AI will fold into mobility as part of the next wave of mobile app development as many current apps will eventually be infused with ML and AI features,” said McQuire. Further, a recent survey fielded by CCS showed as many as 40% of apps will be infused with AI in the coming three years, McQuire said.

“It depends on your definition of enterprise mobility,” Willson said. “AI is already becoming common place and ‘infused’ into our lives, work, rest, and play. AI will end up becoming invisible in what we do, embedded in our technology tools and processes and consumed like we consume the Internet.”

See related: The Biggest Enterprise AI Obstacle Is Humans

As its technology grows and its needs are defined by businesses large and small, how do we get there? Where does an IT team begin to shape the use of AI in the enterprise, and how does the culture shift to accommodate such a massive transformation.

As previously reported by Enterprise Mobility Exchange, the AI technology market is booming, expecting a 36% CAGR over the next half decade, but the lack of expertise in the field is holding those gains back from even wilder growth.

So is this a matter of innovation before education? An all aboard attitude with no known destination?

“There is definitely a skills shortage for sure, and lots of discussions going on around how an organization can build and spread those skills,” Willson said. “Tools are getting better, but they need to improve more still to appeal and be able to be used by more non-data science business people.”

McQuire concurred, stating, “Most enterprises are finding it difficult because most need that right combination of skills in data science, advanced mathematics, technical development and most importantly, business acumen and an understanding of the business problem that AI is solving.”

“Innovation before education always seems to be that way regardless of the innovation you talk about,” Willson said. “And those businesses – big or small – that will see the biggest advantages are those who can minimize that gap and identify where it can help their business grow.”