Experts say AI Has the Potential to Put Enterprises on Autopilot

Machine learning and artificial intelligence will help automate tasks far beyond what the likes of Oracle, Saleforce.com, and even IBM are doing today, according to IT executives and industry analysts speaking at the Constellation Research Connected Enterprise conference on Oct. 25.

Artificial Intelligence Chips

HALF MOON BAY, CALIF. —The practical and potential applications of AI were a hot topic Oct. 24-27 at the Constellation Research Connected Enterprise conference here.

“Today, AI augments what we do, but in the future you’ll see decisions made by (AI) entities,” said Bernt Wahl, executive director of the Brain Machine Consortium.

Wahl argues a logical progression of technological advances will result in smarter, more proactive AI systems. “With the web we created all these search engines and collected all this information,” said Wahl, adding that systems like IBM’s Watson now help determine whether all that information being collected is accurate.

“In the future we’ll have a ‘wisdom engine’ that can take the knowledge we know is accurate and make decisions based on that,’ he said.

Jack Berkowitz, vice president of products and data science for Oracle’s Adaptive Intelligence effort said AI has proven useful in helping companies filter the massive amounts of new data they’re accumulating.

“We call our program adaptive intelligence because it’s about learning and adaptation and keeping pace,” said Berkowitz. “Companies that try to keep up using the kind of rules-based systems we’ve had for years won’t be able to.

While Oracle and other companies, such as Salesforce with its Einstein AI, have touted the use of AI to help with marketing and serving customers, Berkowitz said there are broader applications that legacy systems can’t adapt to.

“Look at something like disaster relief and the reactive capabilities we need when suddenly you don’t have a port to deliver products or humanitarian aid. How do you keep pace with that in real-time?” Berkowitz said AI can enable “smart” supply chains that are better suited to deal with fast-changing scenarios and can also anticipate problems.

On an individual level, David Bray, executive director of People-Centered Internet, said AI has the potential to help us analyze our actions. “We all have blind spots and biases,” said Bray. “AI could be used as a mirror to tell a manager, for example, the last ten hires you made showed this bias. It would act as a kind of companion and help you with hiring decisions.”

Rohit Adlakha, a vice president of AI at Wipro, said companies are going through a digital transformation driven by technologies such as cloud computing and the internet of things that have been enhanced by AI's ability to make them more responsive and efficient.

“Look at the millions of IoT devices out there. You need the hyper-skill and automation AI brings that is critical to making it work,” said Adlakha.

Jana Eggers, CEO of AI company Nara Logics, agreed that AI can be a great and necessary management tool. “We have so much data and information coming in. You need a tool that helps you understand the signal to noise.”

Eggers said Nara Logics’ customers include U.S. intelligence agencies as well as enterprise accounts. “We help them with decision support and how to use AI to figure out the next best action,” she said. “For our customers it’s about ‘How do I do more and react more quickly’. They don’t have a year to plan anymore and they don’t make three-year plans.”

Frederic Laluyaux, President and CEO of Aera Technology, said his company is using AI to develop a kind of “self-driving enterprise” system that would automate the way many decisions are made.

“We are talking about a new era, applying Internet scale technology to the problems facing the enterprise,” said Laluyaux.

Just as a self-driving car uses sensors to recognize, analyze and react to the environment outside, Laluyaux said an AI-based self-driving enterprise would look at all things happening outside the organizations, like transactions and the supply chain, and take action.

“We’re using AI, machine learning, to be able to take action autonomously,” he said.

But Laluyaux said the near term goal is to have the system be able to learn how decisions are made within the organization and take certain actions on its own or simply offer managers suggested actions. As for full autonomy where an AI system literally makes all if not most of the decisions?

“We’re not there yet,” he said.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...