Artificial intelligence (AI) is the cool kid at the lunch table. Peer pressure has the business collective telling each other, “Come on. Do some AI. Everyone’s doing it.” But are they doing it well? Jury’s out. According to the 2019 MIT SMR-BCG Artificial Intelligence Global Executive Study and Research Report, nine out of ten companies have made an investment in AI, yet 70% say they’ve seen minimal or no impact from AI to date.
It seems we may still be a few years away from feeling the real impact of AI — and a more realistic assessment of the value of AI. Forrester Research VP Srividya Sridharan says: “We believe 2020 will be the year when companies become laser-focused on AI value, leap out of experimentation mode, and ground themselves in reality to accelerate adoption.”
There are several AI trends on the horizon this year for IT leaders — and business leaders, at-large — to follow.
AI will be the sexy, new career path for IT professionals
There will be 133 million new jobs created by AI by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2018 Future of Jobs report. The share of jobs requiring AI skills has grown 4.5 times since 2013. And for those worried about automation and it’s net effect on job displacement, by 2020, AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs and create 2.3 million, according to VentureHarbor. Hiring for artificial intelligence pros of various titles has increased 74% annually over the last four years, according to LinkedIn.
All of these statistics speak to a new demand in the marketplace for AI and machine learning (ML) professionals — a demand that will spur up-and-coming IT practitioners to focus on AI as a main course of study.
Privacy and governance will come front-and-center in the AI conversation
When we talk AI and privacy, the discussion will center on facial recognition. In 2019, Facebook attempted to nullify a lawsuit that claimed the company had illegally collected and stored biometric data for millions of users without their consent, but a federal appeals court rejected it. Furthermore, the ACLU is prepared to pursue organizations using facial recognition for uses that could possibly jeopardize the constitutional privacy rights of individuals.
As far as data governance, 2020 will be about operationalizing AI, making governance a top priority. Forrester states in its 2020 AI predictions report that the problem for AI lies in “sourcing data from a complex portfolio of applications and convincing various data gatekeepers to play along.”
The focus will shift from simply having AI to measuring the impact of AI
Having AI for AI’s sake is passé now. Companies have made the investments and now they will use 2020 to figure out if that investment will bear fruit. “’When you do AI right, it generates value and ROI for the enterprise’ is an excellent premise, however the full potential of AI hasn’t been attained,” says AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond Limits. “Many conventional AI systems are merely machine learning, or neural networks, or deep learning. They’re good at handling large sets of data but lack situational awareness or the ability to navigate around missing or incomplete data. They get stuck.”
AI research will reduce speed
No one thinks that the research will come to a screeching halt, but the question is: Can it continue at the steep pace it has been? The demands that AI places on data and processing power may be too much to scale AI objectives, in some use cases — think self-driving cars. We’re still a way off. In an interview with Wired, last month, Facebook AI VP Jerome Pesenti said deep learning research may “hit the wall.”
Pesenti stated, “Clearly the rate of progress is not sustainable. If you look at top experiments, each year the cost is going up 10-fold. Right now, an experiment might be in seven figures, but it’s not going to go to nine or ten figures, it’s not possible, nobody can afford that.”
M-Files has pushed a lot of chips into the middle when it comes to AI in information management. We can verify that AI has risen to the hype, at least in our sector. It will remain a prominent focus of the IT community for years to come, no doubt. IDC figures that by 2025, embedded AI functionality will be incorporated in at least 90% of new enterprise application releases. To temper a bit though, IDC says that comes with a caveat: Truly disruptive AI-led applications will be only about 10% of this total.
AI ain’t going anywhere. But we’re still in a nascent stage, with lots of exciting innovation and healthy disruption to come.