There are many technologies impacting manufacturing and other sectors ranging from healthcare, transportation, retail and education. But here we are going to focus on a single potential game-changer, artificial intelligence (AI).
AI could reboot businesses and empower them to achieve a sustainable, quantum improvement in performance that alters the trajectory of the future. It’s about identifying new ways for companies to do things differently, and to innovate around the technology.
AI is coming of age as business leaders grasp the immense potential of ‘smart’ machines as catalysts for greater efficiencies and competitiveness. By 2019, the global market for content analytics, discovery and cognitive systems software is projected to reach $9.2 billion, according to IDC’s recent Worldwide Content Analytics, Discovery, and Cognitive Systems Software Forecast.
Late last year, AI advanced with image recognition software being used to challenge the typical text search. Pinterest and online footwear retailer Shoes.com are testing new ways to search or browse using just images rather than text, according to a recent report in MIT’s Technology Review.
Each year, Edge.org, a think tank organization publishes essays from thought leaders and researchers related to a hot topic in public and academic discourse. This year’s question was, “What do you think about machines that think?” In grappling with this question, a major comment thread was that AI is no longer a future abstraction but rather is becoming a tangible reality.
In the Edge.org probe, several other themes emerged. AI is expected to augment human workers—making humans more effective, sharpening their expertise and facilitating innovation by reducing the barriers between humans and machines. For now, augmentation is more common in the area of cognitive computing, in which machines can sense, comprehend and even act alone. Cognitive computing is more about “person and machine” rather than “person versus machine.”
Other scenarios see AI in the form of digital assistants that humans can use to more effectively perform tasks like enterprise customer service, workflow management or collaboration.
This trend is disrupting the “old order.” Smart, connected products are transforming companies, corporate strategies, entire value chains or ecosystems, as well as quality of life and competition. AI holds the promise of unleashing a new wave of creativity, opportunities and profitability. It will drive another chapter in the ongoing industrial technological revolution and offer companies, countries and economies opportunities to reinvent themselves for a more vibrant and optimistic future.