It’s hard to deny the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the enterprise. According to a 2017 study by Cowen, 81 percent of IT leaders are investing in or planning to invest in AI. Specifically, 43 percent are evaluating and doing a proof of concept (POC); 38 percent have already launched initiatives and are targeting more investments.
With numbers like that, it's no surprise that AI has also made its impact on the business side. It’s crept into actual job titles in the enterprise, even if actual talent in developing AI may be hard to find. The New York Times reported last year there are fewer than 10,000 qualified people in the world to deploy AI.
So how is AI affecting roles in the enterprise? We caught up with those who have found AI impacting their specific roles in the enterprise.
AI Demand Increasing
Chris Sykes, CEO and Head of AI & Robotics at Volume, the AI Agency, told CMSWire he added the term “Head of AI & Robotics” to his title of CEO about two years ago. Sykes is involved at the front end of his company’s AI customer relationships, helping to educate customers and organizations on AI: where they should focus, how they should approach AI, what their state of “AI readiness” is and what skills and roles they’ll need internally. “I get many invitations to speak and attend AI events and my profile has certainly increased significantly — especially evident on Linkedin, in terms of connection requests and seniority of connections,” Sykes said.
Sykes also shared that his company's focus is on “experiential AI” or turning content into conversations and moving the search generation to the ask generation. “In this context,” Sykes said, “AI is redefining how people interact with a digital business. We are seeing more customers looking to extend the self-serve cycle and automate first touches, as well as deliver a better and more personalized customer experience.”
Volume is seeing AI impact the type of people it now employs and is looking to employ more AI-minded workers in the future. “We require a different skill set and mind set. Our approach has moved from execution and implementation to more a consultative one. We are also dealing with more senior contacts within our customer base.,” he said.
AI Adds Another Layer of Evolution to Search
Whit Andrews, artificial intelligence analyst at research organization Gartner, has seen his role impacted by AI, too. He’s gone from covering search technology for many years for Gartner to now being the agenda manager for artificial intelligence. “Having covered search technology for as long as I have, I am useful as a person who can help Gartner set its agenda for artificial intelligence research,” Andrews said.
Andrews said Gartner has found that only one in 25 CIOs reported they're employing AI now. And five in 25 CIOs said they have it in their short-term plans. “So that's a big chunk of people who want to get from the big island of people who have it in their short term plans to the tiny island of people who are doing it already and that is what a lot of our research is about,” Andrews said.
Andrews also shared that he’s looking at the kinds of architectural changes organizations might be making in their IT systems and how their common roles might change in order for them to be able to pursue AI projects. “For example,” he said, “how their data scientists have to shift from thinking of themselves as only facilitating analysis to facilitating action.”
Andrews said for the most part, the impact of AI in the enterprise is relatively invisible for the average knowledge worker: The impacts being “either largely or entirely invisible,” things that increase simplicity.
Integrating AI Thinking Into Your Processes
AI has also impacted roles in the product marketing and product management side of the enterprise. Gary Brotman, director of product management for artificial intelligence & machine learning at Qualcomm, saw the impact of AI in his role start to grow about two and a half years ago. Brotman’s role is shepherding AI technologies that Qualcomm has in-house to enable customers. The goal is to run AI and machine learning algorithms on a device without the cloud being in the mix. “My role is to push the platform and develop tools and hardware to be able to make our platform perform for those use cases,” Brotman said.
Brotman said to leverage AI in the enterprise you don’t need to a PhD. He’s been able to shepherd some of the machine learning technology out of research into the commercial side. “My background certainly isn't in machine learning,” Brotman said. “My background is really in holistic product marketing and product management and we treat this just like any other tech domain that we have in the past where everybody's learning on the job here. It's all new and it's a very much a level playing field. Aside from PhD-level work, I think most of us are all coming at this pretty brand new.”
AI Hype or Revolution?
Some feel you should take industry reports about the emergence of AI in the enterprise with a grain of salt. Jon Lee, CEO and co-founder of ProsperWorks, falls into that category: “There’s been a lot of hype around AI, but in reality AI’s impact on the enterprise has been minimal so far. I believe it’s now more important than ever for enterprises to focus on results over hype.” Despite all the advances in AI and machine learning, humans will continue to play a vital role in the enterprise because business will still rely on relationships between people, Lee added.
“However," he said, "new technologies can augment those relationships by recommending what next steps to take, empowering relationship managers with data to better target and prioritize prospective leads, and empower reps to bring compelling propositions to further each party’s interests."