Executives predict that in 2016 artificial intelligence will assume a very important role in enterprise technology, but except for a few enterprises, artificial intelligence still seems to be a thing of the future.
To be on the job, you need to constantly learn. This is true not only for humans but also for machines. A machine has to process data and grow intelligently. It does not follow a specific pattern or fixed algorithm; it intelligently identifies patterns—just like you and me. Once the system learns and grows, it will assist humans, or in some cases take over, while making decisions. This is artificial intelligence for you.
The Executive Focus in 2016
The focus of Indian enterprises in 2016 is on training machines as well as people. According to the Accenture Technology Vision 2015, 87 percent of executives surveyed in India have said that within the next three years companies will need to focus on training their machines as much as they do training their people, which include intelligent software, algorithms, and machine learning.
The adoption of artificial intelligence may not be widespread in enterprises, but it is slowly getting there. One of the reasons for this would be the lack of awareness, said Sri Karumbatti, CIO at Stumpp, Schuele & Somappa Springs, a Bangalore-based automotive enterprise which deals with artificial intelligence for its internal processes.
“Even if companies are aware of artificial intelligence, they do not realize the potential of such a tool,” he said.
One of the verticals where cognitive computing is seeing a bright future is the healthcare sector. According to IBM Institute for Business Value-Cognitive Computing Study 2015, which surveyed healthcare executives familiar with cognitive computing, 81 percent of the respondents believe that artificial intelligence will have a critical impact on the future of their business, whereas 84 percent believe it will play a disruptive role in the healthcare industry.
In another global report by IBM which surveyed government officials familiar with cognitive computing, 83 percent of the participants believe AI will have a critical impact on the future of their organization, whereas everyone intended to invest in AI.
Furthermore, if we look at the adoption of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence across the globe, we see that Asian countries are at the forefront. No wonder we always associate robots with Japan! According to KPMG’s 2015 Global Technology Innovation Survey, Chinese tech companies believe that cognitive computing will be the most disruptive technology enabling indispensable consumer technology. On the other hand, Japan sees artificial intelligence to have the greatest impact in driving business transformation.
Artificial Intelligence and 2015
Recently, Manipal Hospitals announced that it will deploy IBM Watson for helping oncologists to provide cancer patients with individualized healthcare. This will be the first deployment of Watson in India and the first engagement of its kind as India advances efforts to transform healthcare.
Manipal Hospitals, which has 15 hospitals over the country, provides care for more than 200,000 individuals with cancer each year. Moreover, in this year alone more than 44,000 research papers have been published around the world. When the dataset is this huge, a normal human brain will not be able to process the mammoth of data that has to be analyzed—Manipal Hospitals realized that it needed “Dr Watson.”
Vanitha Narayan, managing director at IBM India, at the launch of IBM Watson for oncology said that the era of transactional data is almost over and now there is an explosion of data.
“Today, 80 percent of the data that exists is not processed and not used. And frankly it would be very difficult to process this data in a timely manner. So it’s about harnessing the data and delivering a set of solutions or capabilities for a variety of applications,” she added.
Dr. Ajay Bakshi, managing director and CEO at Manipal Hospitals, said the number of people coming forward to get themselves checked is increasing because they do not show any inhibition these days. But the number of doctors is still negligible and constant—about 1,600 patients for every oncologist. This clearly indicates that there is not enough time for doctors to check patients, which necessitates the need for a “super doctor.”
87 percent of executives surveyed in India have said that within the next three years companies will need to focus on training their machines as much as they do training their people.
Watson may be the most famous use case of AI but it isn’t the only one. Companies such as Wipro, TCS, Infosys, and IPSoft have also made a mark in this field.
To enhance the online shopping experience, Flipkart cofounder and CEO Sachin Bansal said at event earlier this year that the company is giving a serious thought to artificial intelligence. “The shopping experiences will become more and more human, rather than talking to a machine, which is pretty dumb,” he said.
He said that this is work in progress but it will become “one of the big reasons for consumers to choose one way or another.”
A few months ago, TCS launched Ignio, a neural automation centre for enterprises where you can plug into the company’s IT infrastructure and ingest all the data. The company said that the algorithms that form “the neural brain” of Ignio are capable of performing repetitive tasks. The system, which took almost four years to develop, can also predict peak demand for computer servers and ration storage capacity accordingly.
Earlier this year, Wipro developed its cognitive computing system, Holmes, also touted as “the Watson killer.”
“Traditional IT systems are designed to solve problems that are precise and repetitive by nature. However, strong reasoning capabilities and the ability to contextualize will be key to enabling superior business outcomes in the future. We are confident of achieving this objective with the customer helpdesk management solution developed for Nexenta, powered by our artificial intelligence platform–Holmes,” said K. R. Sanjiv, CTO of Wipro, during the launch of this system.
Infosys is also using AI on their current software platforms, most of which are focused on solving problems that occur repetitively. Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys, recently said that currently there has been a major shift in the companies’ approaches—the emergence of artificial intelligence.
IPSoft last year gave birth to Amelia, which could work across its artificial intelligence platform. This year, the company came up with an update—Amelia 2.0. Amelia automates knowledge work across a plethora of business functions, and the new updates will make her brain resemble ours. To make things more real, her physical appearance and expressiveness have also been transformed to be more human-like. In addition, her new animation form has been entirely remodelled on that of a real person.
“In just one year we have seen Amelia ‘grow up’ tremendously. Just imagine how her maturity will accelerate over the next five,” said Chetan Dube, CEO of IPsoft, at the release of the update. “We are fast approaching the moment when technology is knocking at the Turing horizon, where machine intelligence starts to match human intelligence. Amelia will be the harbinger of that shift, inviting us to re-evaluate the relationship between man and machine in order to create a more efficient planet.”
In some ways, artificial intelligence – in the form of automated features within popular applications – is already helping us combat info-glut. Those small steps are leading inevitably to a future in which we’ll all rely on AI for daily assistance with mundane tasks.
Owners of Hyundai Motor's upcoming Equus will be able to take their hands off the steering wheel and feet off the brakes as they're traveling down the highway, and let their car do the driving. The South Korea-based automaker plans to integrate a host of self-driving features into its premium sedan later this year, transforming it into a semiautonomous vehicle.
Will enterprises take that leap of faith in 2016 and invest in artificial intelligence—a technology that some still feel is “artificial”?