Maybe you don’t need an AI strategy

Maybe you don’t need an AI strategy. After all, it’s completely overhyped. Alternatively, it’s just a load of repackaged old stuff we’ve been doing for years. Either way.

Or maybe you do.

Here are three things every senior technology leader or architect needs to know about AI* in business:

  1. “AI” is not one identifiable, singular thing. “AI” is not a black box that sits in the corner and gives you answers to questions, like IBM’s Watson did on Jeopardy. That was a cool parlour trick. As we discussed here and here, today’s AI is actually a whole collection of capabilities that work across three layers of concern: interaction, insight and integration.
  2. AI technology is not a horizontal business capability. It’s not like email. Different business capabilities and services have the potential to benefit from AI capabilities in different ways. Fundamentally, from a technology portfolio and sourcing perspective this is something you have to look at through an application, rather than an infrastructure, lens. As we explain in this article on the economics of AI tech, the other wrinkle is that sourcing needs to be differentiated: some AI capabilities are commoditising quickly, and can be utilised in a largely ‘off the shelf’ form’; others are very likely to remain only realisable through extensive specialisation to particular domains.
  3. You’ll get AI in your business systems and processes, whether you’re ready or not. Are you a Salesforce customer? Or maybe an Oracle applications customer? Or a SAP applications customer? Today all these vendors are starting to deliver optional/chargeable AI extensions to their cloud apps. Very soon those features will start to migrate into the baseline product editions.

Robots are not going to steal all our jobs tomorrow, but at the same time there are some seriously important things going on – we call it a ‘new wave of automation’. Ignoring AI is not a strategy.

We’ve just launched an AI Discovery Workshop offering that’s designed to help you and your teams work through these the implications of these issues and develop a workable AI strategy. We’d love to hear from you.

*Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the term “AI”. It confuses people; it leads people to think that AI is an identifiable, singular thing; and it also encourages those who’ve been around a while (like me) to think “here we go again”. But I think we’re probably stuck with it now.


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