#1 By the End of 2024, Gen AI Will Become a ‘Hygiene Factor’ for Tech Providers
AI has widely been commended as the ‘game changer’ that will create and extend the divide between adopters and laggards and be the deciding factor for success and failure.
Cutting through the hype, strategic adoption of AI is still at a nascent stage and 2024 will be another year where companies identify use cases, experiment with POCs, and commit renewed efforts to get their data assets in order.
The biggest impact of AI will be derived from integrated AI capability in standard packaged software and products – and this will include Generative AI. We will see a plethora of product releases that seamlessly weave Generative AI into everyday tools generating new value through increased efficiency and user-friendliness.
Technology will be the first industry where AI becomes the deciding factor between success and failure; tech providers will be forced to deliver on their AI promises or be left behind.
#2 Gen AI Will Disrupt the Role of IT Architects
Traditionally, IT has relied on three-tier architectures for applications, that faced limitations in scalability and real-time responsiveness. The emergence of microservices, containerisation, and serverless computing has paved the way for event-driven designs, a paradigm shift that decouples components and use events like user actions or data updates as triggers for actions across distributed services. This approach enhances agility, scalability, and flexibility in the system.
The shift towards event-driven designs and advanced architectural patterns presents a compelling challenge for IT Architects, as traditionally their role revolved around designing, planning and overseeing complex systems.
Generative AI is progressively demonstrating capabilities in architectural design through pattern recognition, predictive analytics, and automated decision-making.
With the adoption of Generative AI, the role of an IT Architect will change into a symbiotic relationship where human expertise collaborates with AI insights.
#3 Gen AI Adoption Will be Confined to Specific Use Cases
A little over a year ago, a new era in AI began with the initial release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Since then, many organisations have launched Generative AI pilots.
In its second-year enterprises will start adoption – but in strictly defined and limited use cases. Examples such as Microsoft Copilot demonstrate an early adopter route. While productivity increases for individuals can be significant, its enterprise impact is unclear (at this time).
But there are impactful use cases in enterprise knowledge and document management. Organisations across industries have decades (or even a century) of information, including digitised documents and staff expertise. That treasure trove of information can be made accessible through cognitive search and semantic answering, driven by Generative AI.
Generative AI will provide organisations with a way to access, distill, and create value out of that data – a task that may well be impossible to achieve in any other way.
#4 Gen AI Will Get Press Inches; ‘Traditional’ AI Will Do the Hard Work
While the use cases for Generative AI will continue to expand, the deployment models and architectures for enterprise Generative AI do not add up – yet.
Running Generative AI in organisations’ data centres is costly and using public models for all but the most obvious use cases is too risky. Most organisations opt for a “small target” strategy, implementing Generative AI in isolated use cases within specific processes, teams, or functions. Justifying investment in hardware, software, and services for an internal AI platform is challenging when the payback for each AI initiative is not substantial.
“Traditional AI/ML” will remain the workhorse, with a significant rise in use cases and deployments. Organisations are used to investing for AI by individual use cases. Managing process change and training is also more straightforward with traditional AI, as the changes are implemented in a system or platform, eliminating the need to retrain multiple knowledge workers.
#5 AI Will Pioneer a 21st Century BPM Renaissance
As we near the 25-year milestone of the 21st century, it becomes clear that many businesses are still operating with 20th-century practices and philosophies.
AI, however, represents more than a technological breakthrough; it offers a new perspective on how businesses operate and is akin to a modern interpretation of Business Process Management (BPM). This development carries substantial consequences for digital transformation strategies. To fully exploit the potential of AI, organisations need to commit to an extensive and ongoing process spanning the collection, organisation, and expansion of data, to integrating these insights at an application and workflow level.
The role of AI will transcend technological innovation, becoming a driving force for substantial business transformation. Sectors that specialise in workflow, data management, and organisational transformation are poised to see the most growth in 2024 because of this shift.
The relevance of this is around the terminology that Peak AI has introduced. They call what they offer “Decision Intelligence” and are crafting a market space around it. Peak’s basic premise was to build AI not as a business goal for itself but as a business service aided by a solution and limited to particular types of added value. The goal of Peak AI is to identify where Decision Intelligence can add value, and help the company build a business case that is both achievable and commercially viable.
For example, UK hard landscaping manufacturer Marshalls worked with Peak AI to streamline their bid process with contractors. This allows customers to get the answers they need in terms of bid decisions and quotes quickly and efficiently, significantly speeding up the sales cycle.
AI-as-a-Service is not a new concept. Canadian start-up Element AI tried to create an AI services business for non-tech companies to use as they might these days use consulting services. It never quite got there, though, and was acquired by ServiceNow last year. Peak AI is looking at specific elements such as sales, planning and supply chain for physical products in how decisions are made and where adding some level of automation in the decision is beneficial. The Peak AI solution, CODI (Connected Decision Intelligence) sits as a layer of intelligence that between the other systems, ingesting the data and aiding in its utilisation.
The added tool to create a data-ingestion layer for business decision-making is quite a trend right now. For example, IBM’s Causal Inference 360 Toolkit offers access to multiple tools that can move the decision-making processes from “best guess” to concrete answers based on data, aiding data scientists to apply and understand causal inference in their models.
Implications on Business Processes
The bigger problem is not the volume of data, but the interpretation of it.
Data warehouses and other ways of gathering data to a central or cloud-based location to digest is also not new. The real challenge lies with the interpretation of what the data means and what decisions can be fine-tuned with this data. This implies that data modelling and process engineers need to be involved. Not every company has thought through the possible options for their processes, nor are they necessarily ready to implement these new processes both in terms of resources and priorities. This also requires data harmonisation rules, consistent data quality and managed data operations.
Given the increasing flow of data in most organisations, external service providers for AI solution layers embedded in the infrastructure as data filters could be helpful in making sense of what exists. And they can perhaps suggest how the processes themselves can be readjusted to match the growth possibilities of the business itself. This is likely a great footprint for the likes of Accenture, KPMG and others as process wranglers.