There’s a saying that those who live their lives by the crystal ball will soon eat shattered glass. Which is why, instead of writing your standard prediction column, I’m taking a cue from that great philosopher poet, Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
So in the spirit of taking time to look at where AI is—and where it’s going—here are my top six AI trends that will impact businesses in 2020 and beyond. Because workflows enhanced by artificial intelligence and machine learning will dramatically alter the way we work, delivering great experiences for employees and customers alike.
1) AI will go from identifying trends to making intelligent decisions
Techies of a certain vintage will remember War Games, another classic 1980s movie in which Matthew Broderick plays a teenage computer whiz who almost starts a nuclear war by hacking into a top-secret military mainframe and playing “war games” with the computer. The world is saved when the computer is directed to repeatedly play tic-tac-toe—ultimately learning that nuclear war is similarly unwinnable.
As the long-awaited promise of AI and machine learning is realized, we’ll see more of these “intelligent” actions. And as humans become more comfortable with this newfound “intelligence,” they will remove themselves from the equation.
This will allow business to build AI-enabled workflows that lead to greater productivity gains. For example, right now AI can predict when a printer needs a new toner cartridge, but taking a step further, AI can order the toner before it runs out, creating a seamless experience.
2) Work will get faster…much faster
AI is dependent on processing power and data—and as both increase, evolution of AI will grow exponentially.
Advances in AI will lead to workflows that deliver more focused outcomes that are more efficient, faster, and more controlled. While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the state of AI will be in 10 years, these trends should directly influence areas related to manufacturing, healthcare, and security.
3) Chatbots will be your new assistant
From HAL to Wall-E, robots have been part of our collective psyche since the term was coined in 1920. And soon employees will have their own AI-powered chatbots to act as personal assistants, booking business travel, scheduling meetings, and managing to-do lists.
Whole departments will rely on chatbots as part of their larger digital transformation strategies. At the same time, advancement of natural language understanding (NLU) will make bot-to-bot communication so effective that humans can be freed from multiple business processes.
The prospect of bot-to-bot communications forming the next generation of API technology is an obvious evolution within enterprise technology. Enterprise-grade bots can automate time-consuming tasks such as ordering supplies, paying vendors, and invoicing clients by using a messaging platform to manage these activities.
4) AI will be seen less as a threat and more as an enabler
The impact of AI on jobs and the workforce can’t be avoided or overlooked.
The good news is that I’m hearing far fewer conversations about people being replaced by AI. And with the adoption of user-focused workflows that allow work to flow naturally across the enterprise, employees are beginning to understand the power of great experiences at work.
Business leaders and employees are realizing the potential of AI to not only replace redundant, menial tasks, but to augment new skills for employees. And forward-thinking organizations will hasten programs to reskill and repurpose employees to enhance organizational agility, productivity, and experiences.
5) Augmented reality will actually be the reality in the next decade at work
The world of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality has taken Tron-like leaps and bounds recently. From field services to medical applications, uses of augmented reality are popping up on a regular basis.
Over the next few years, haptics and robotics will get us closer to using mixed reality on a wider scale—not only viewing a virtual environment, but interacting with it. The rise of 5G will allow edge-based processing, dramatically reducing the need for localized hardware and significantly reducing time lag effects to make it a much more realistic experience.
6) More insightful predictions will be possible in coming years
AI will allow us to not only understand trends, but to use mathematical modeling to predict events before they happen. By analyzing previous problems and their eventual solutions, AI will be able to make recommendations to avert crisis scenarios and maintain normal operations within an organization and its network. Predictive AI will greatly benefit critical areas of business, including cybersecurity and customer services. This is already happening in many instances.
AI will change two very important things:
One thing technology leaders and visionaries can agree on is that the current rate of change in technology makes it almost impossible to predict the future 10 years out when it comes to dynamic, industry-changing technologies like AI.