When communicating with a C-suite audience, it’s essential for IT pros to learn how to demonstrate the value of emerging technologies and—even more importantly—how new technology can impact the bottom line. By laying a solid foundation with peer education and making a compelling business case, IT pros will earn the chance to capitalise on artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and have an unprecedented positive impact on their organisations. With the valuation of digital technologies—including the AI market—predicted to inject $315 billion AUD into the Australian economy by 2028, enterprises are racing to reap the revenue rewards of machine learning (ML) and AI technologies.
As we make our way through 2020, AI remains a point of differentiation across the IT industry, though not as much as it once was. The tech giants are the front-runners, with cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services® and Microsoft® Azure® in a bidding war to become developers’ preferred cloud computing choice. The key here? These providers are investing heavily to provide frictionless AI adoption by offering it (and its associated subsystems) as a built-in service on their platforms. And the competition only gets fiercer as Google® continues to nip at their heels.
The rest of the IT world isn’t far behind, however. According to a survey by SolarWinds, IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow, almost half of the IT professionals in Australia feel unequipped to manage emerging technologies such as AI with their current skill set. Though AI integration won’t happen overnight, it may happen sooner than we’re willing to believe (or admit). Previous perceptions of uncertainty about the technology will change as it quickly becomes a real capability necessary for survival.
The benefits of the analytics and predictive capabilities enabled by ML and AI are far-reaching, automating many manual, labour-intensive tasks often requiring little human input. As organisations push to leverage business data in new ways, the IT professional’s job is to implement and manage this data responsibly.
So what are the main priorities for IT professionals for the rest of the year?
- Master the Art of Code
The battle cry to learn coding, which has recently echoed throughout the technology community and into the national curriculum, is getting increasingly louder. This is as much about understanding how programming languages work and the way different inputs generate different results as it is about learning to code.
Developing even a theoretical knowledge of coding will be vital for understanding the role of AI in a business, whether it will be applied as part of internal operations, used to streamline the delivery or quality of a product, or be packaged and offered as a product itself.
Hands-on training through vendor initiatives or beginning to investigate API client programming requirements will empower admins to suggest where and how IT can harness AI to deliver added value to their organisations in the year ahead. This training will also prepare admins for the integration of new machine-based technologies, such as bots and—eventually—AI capabilities.
- Gain Value Beyond the Hype
The hype around AI is huge. However, players are throwing around bold claims of “smart algorithms,” “machine learning capabilities,” and “predictive technologies” without truly understanding the buzzwords. Many supposed AI or ML-powered initiatives boil down to little more than the automated crunching of extremely large data sets. Some of these solutions pull in hundreds of different strands of data, which are analysed and used to draw conclusions informing high-level business decisions. This is no mean feat, but it’s just not AI.
In a world where enterprises across every industry are racing to unlock the power of AI for their organisations, only a true understanding of the nuances will help businesses wring every drop of value from these technologies.
- Translating AI Into AUD
Perhaps the most important priority for an IT manager is being able to explain the value of these emerging technologies and show the C-suite the impact it can have on the bottom line.
Potential job losses, potential gains, and how the technology will change worker collaboration and decision-making should all be considered when investing in AI. It’s the IT professional’s responsibility to provide counsel to the executives and leaders making decisions around IT investments.
Get a Grasp Before the Storm
When considering investing in AI and ML, there are a myriad of challenges facing businesses—from identifying business opportunities to choosing what the best solution will be and how to implement it. It’s hard to know which aspect of the project to focus on first. Still, the most important thing for IT professionals is mastering the art of dealing with emerging technologies before they take the tech landscape by storm.