Opinion Piece: Artificial Intelligence – heading for The Cloud(s)
By Saurabh Kumar, CEO at In2IT Tech PTY LTD
1 June 2017
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Cloud are making an impact in everyone’s business and personal lives. The sheer volume of data being generated daily, by billions across the globe, has accelerated the development of both, and prompted the need for them to be put to best use – collaboratively.
At its most basic level, AI leverages the ability to use historical data and identify patterns, to predict future behaviours. The applications for this capability extend far and wide, enabling business’ to improve their decision-making capabilities by automating processes and removing the human element where errors are considered harmfully high. Organisations can use AI and intelligent analytics to reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, enhance productivity and increase profitability.
Cloud migration in South Africa is still, relatively speaking, in its infancy. However, cloud adoption is becoming more and more prevalent and expected to become the norm by 2020. The fact that cloud adoption is still on the rise in South Africa while AI being properly introduced, however, is to be considered a boon for South African enterprises – these two, together, can combine to further grow cloud as a medium, while simplifying the deployment of AI solutions.
Cloud for AI
For business’ to transition their cloud platforms from a basic level of support for AI capabilities, to a model in which AI programs are as widely supported as web and databases are today, they need to get back to the fundamentals. While generic, standardised cloud platforms address existing IT and AI needs, this may not be true as we move forward. AI requires more individualisation than most other applications, which is prompting the need for ‘AI First’ cloud solutions.
AI First Cloud Solutions give priority to AI data and requests. When AI is prioritised by the cloud solution, business’ start enjoying real value. The underlying cognitive capabilities of AI rely a lot on repetitive behaviours, where machines learn from repetition to become more accurate. In turn, this enables better planning and decision making across the business, as their data is automated and automatically customised for their specific requirements. Productivity is improved, better decisions are made, and overall efficiency and effectiveness is heightened.
Rands and Sense
The last few years have seen a tremendous level of investment into AI capabilities on cloud platforms. With companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM leading the charge, many Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions have started incorporating AI into their solutions.
Cloud service providers who have set up platforms that can be accessed anywhere and billed on a pay-per-use basis, benefit from easy integration via the standard API programming interface. For any organisation wishing to invest in AI, such platforms offer an effective means to do so without involving significant investment. These business’ can also integrate the solutions with whatever they are needing to achieve in the business – simply and cost effectively. However, AI in the cloud tends to be considered a stand-alone system, and is typically used only in specific cases when dealing with customers. More customised offerings would require more private cloud, or AI First, cloud solutions.
It is key to note, however, that AI may not always be applicable to every industry or sector, and the pros and cons need to be weighed up to ensure that this technology is implemented for the right reasons – contributing to the growth of the business. Organisations need to take careful stock of what they hope to achieve with AI and match it up with the solution that best fits their need.
On top of this, in a country sensitive to the possible threat of AI on employment levels, organisations should be placing emphasis on leveraging AI to supplement their workforce, helping to upskill their staff while supporting their functions and, thus, improving productivity. AI can effectively be used to address those functions which are laborious, freeing up employee time to address those tasks which require critical thinking.
With the right cloud platform, and the right AI solution, business’ can vastly spur on their growth and development, while contributing positively to their employees and reaping the benefits of improved efficiencies and decision making.