Some of you may remember artificial intelligence (AI) as the darling technology of the 1970s and 1980s. You also may remember the early “expert” decision support systems (DSSs) that populated vertical industries in the 1980s and early 1990s. The users of these systems had to be pretty sophisticated just to understand what the applications did, let alone how they worked.
Well, your browser is now a decision support system that permits you to search, execute transactions and serve yourself data, information and knowledge — all by pointing and clicking. Browser-based applications are getting smarter and smarter and may just revolutionize the way you think about transaction processing of all kinds — and that occur inside and outside your firewall.
Intelligent systems technology should be tracked very, very closely. Why? Because it will impact nearly all of your business models, IT investments and your overall business/IT alignment strategy. In fact, if I had to pick three technologies that will have the greatest impact on your business over the next five years, intelligent systems technology would be on the list.
But what is “AI”? What is intelligence systems technology? What is intelligent decision support? What are the enabling, ancillary technologies necessary to make it all work together? Take a look at the following mock report from your future “intelligent” network and systems management framework:
NETWORK OPERATIONS CENTER CONFIDENTIAL/ENCRYPTED INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS NETWORK COMMAND JUL 6, 2005 0900 EST SUBJECT: NETWORK OVERLOAD 1. TO CONFIRM EXTREME USAGE OF THE VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORKS & UNPRECEDENTED NUMBER OF SECURITY ATTACKS ON THE FIREWALLS 2. RECOMMEND IMMEDIATE RECONFIGURATION OF NETWORK TOPOLOGY: IF TRAFFIC &/OR ASSAULTS CONTINUE FOR 90 MINUTES OR MORE, RECONFIGURATION WILL OCCUR OBSERVATIONS 1. NETWORK & SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK IS UNDERPERFORMING TO SPECIFICATIONS & THE NEGOTIATED SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT (SLA) 2. ACCESS DEVICES ARE NON-STANDARD AND DEGRADING NETWORK PERFORMANCE 3. APPLICATIONS ARE ILL-CONFIGURED FOR OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE 4. MANAGEMENT DECISION-MAKING IS LAGGING PRICE PERFORMANCE 5. CALCULATIONS: ESTIMATED LOSSES DUE TO INACTIVITY = $8M; PROJECTED LOSSES = $2M PER MONTH 6. PERSONNEL RECORD ANALYSIS INDICATES GROWING SKILLS GAP AMONG ALL PROFESSIONAL LEVELS
This is the kind of message we can expect to receive as more and more intelligent applications are deployed.
Here are some things to consider:
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The emphasis on this technology can be explained by the potential impact it can have across a variety of “horizontal” technology areas as well as just about every vertical industry we can imagine.
Chances are you’re already using a variety of pretty sophisticated intelligent tools and techniques — embedded in a variety of applications on your desktops, in your servers and even in your mainframes. We’re suggesting a second, much more powerful wave of intelligent applications that will revolutionize how you compute and communicate.
The application of intelligent systems technology will be wide and deep. Because of the power of this technology we advise you to do the following:
The good thing about these tasks is that this stuff is really interesting and powerful — a chance to have some fun. If you’re looking for something to volunteer for, this is it.
Steve Andriole is the Thomas G. Labrecque Professor of Business at Villanova University where he conducts applied research in business/technology alignment. He is also the founder & CTO of TechVestCo, a new economy consortium that focuses on optimizing investments in information technology. He is formerly the senior vice president and CTO of Safeguard Scientifics and the CTO and senior vice president for technology strategy at CIGNA Corp. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.