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Straight Talk IT

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The technology, media, and telecoms industry is seeing rapid growth in the field of artificial intelligence, fueled by increased processing power, new techniques for handling data, and the rise of data science. Technology vendors across many domains are making acquisitions in the field, raising funds, and launching new product offerings, while digital service providers are looking for opportunities to incorporate AI into their services for both enterprise and consumer markets. We recommend that enterprises should build up experience in the AI field as part of their data science and information management programs, and review business processes and applications where AI techniques can add value.

The heat continues in the AI market

Although the market spans a number of adjacent categories, ranging from machine learning and neural networks through to applied solutions and specialized acceleration hardware, there is a significant effort from players, large and small, across these domains to catch the AI wave. Recent examples include Intel's acquisition of deep-learning platform company Nervana Systems, Microsoft's acquisition of smart scheduling tool Genee (which it plans to incorporate into Office 365), and Salesforce.com's purchase of deep-learning start-up MetaMind. AI is also the hottest sector in the venture capital world, with funding almost doubling on a year-by-year basis since 2012.

Through adding greater predictive and prescriptive insight to many business processes and interactions, AI will have a profound impact on every application category. Current growth areas include natural language processing driving conversational bots in customer service, and image recognition being applied in fields from security to digital media to online commerce. IBM has shown with its Watson platform how a range of AI techniques can create powerful industry applications in areas such as healthcare, energy, and financial services.

Enterprises must build experience

We anticipate that AI will pervade the enterprise quite rapidly, as a range of AI techniques are incorporated into business and consumer applications. However, enterprises cannot simply sit back and wait for the benefits. Profiting from AI will require experience in interpreting the outputs and an understanding of how the insights can best be applied to business processes. Organizations that have already invested in enhanced information management, analytics, or data science capabilities will already be well placed to extend their programs; those that have not yet done so should develop or acquire analytics and big data expertise, and consider establishing an analytics competency center with AI as part of its remit.

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