Resistance is futile.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is undoubtedly one of the hottest trends in tech today, and over the next few years, it will overtake the software industry, according to IT analyst firm Gartner. But first, it helps to come to grips with what the technology can and cannot do.
"AI refers to systems that change behaviors without being explicitly programmed, based on data collected, usage analysis and other observations. While there is a widely held fear that AI will replace humans, the reality is that today's AI and machine learning technologies can and do greatly augment human capabilities," stated Gartner. "Machines can actually do some things better and faster than humans, once trained; the combination of machines and humans can accomplish more together than separately."
It's unsurprising, then, that practically every new software product or service released by 2020 will include AI capabilities, predicted Gartner. Thirty percent of CIOs are expected to make AI one of their top five investment priorities by that same year.
AI has enormous potential in the enterprise, but Gartner research vice president Jim Hare warned the IT industry not to blindly follow the hype.
"As AI accelerates up the Hype Cycle, many software providers are looking to stake their claim in the biggest gold rush in recent years," said Hare in a statement. "AI offers exciting possibilities, but unfortunately, most vendors are focused on the goal of simply building and marketing an AI-based product rather than first identifying needs, potential uses and the business value to customers."
But don't fall for "AI washing," cautioned Gartner.
Akin to "greenwashing," the practice of overstating the environmental benefits of a product or business practice with dubious or exaggerated claims, some vendors are using "AI washing" to inflate their products' AI capabilities. Vendors are advised to be disciplined in the use of the term in their marketing and be prepared to offer proof of how their AI solutions rise above the pack and the problems they solve.
Gartner also suggested that CIOs perhaps pump the brakes a bit in their pursuit of cutting-edge AI capabilities. Businesses can get a lot of mileage out of practical and comparatively uncomplicated machine-learning technologies that address the pressing needs of end-users today, said the firm.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.