Strategy

Harnessing the power of AI to operate in the 21st century economy

By Kalyan Kumar, Chief Technology Officer – IT Services, HCL Technologies
Strategy
Published: 12 June 2017

The coming of age of ‘Decacorns’
In the 21st century, companies are forced to rethink traditional market approaches and become more service–centric in order to remain relevant. Organisations such as Uber and AirBnB are perfect examples of 21st century enterprises. The last 15 years have witnessed the emergence of start-ups that have steadily grown into large scale organisations.

The application of on-demand, always-on technology that propel agility, simplicity, flexibility, and lean operations with customer experience at the core of their actions enabled a new dawn of ‘decacorn’ organisations. Any company – large or small – can leverage the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to succeed in the 21st century.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is driving business decisions
Amidst these disruptions, AI is no longer an implausible futuristic vision, but a stark reality that is disrupting businesses worldwide. I have been in this business for decades now, and can say that AI is bringing a sea of change. I am not really surprised to see that how AI is ruling all the recent business discussions.

Companies are gradually embracing AI and it’s increasingly influencing every aspect of business, especially consumer technology. According to IDC, the worldwide market for cognitive systems, content analytics, and discovery software is expected to accelerate through 2020, exceeding $10 billion in revenue, with a CAGR of over 17%; with others citing these systems as catalyst to have a US$5 trillion – US$7 trillion potential economic impact by 2025.

As a result, there are speculations regarding AI’s growing role and whether that might adversely affect the job market. However, the purpose of automation is not to replace humans or ‘dehumanisation’, but to enhance and augment human functions for improved productivity and efficiency.

Key Benefits of AI
The introduction of AI enabled Automation, powered by real-time analytics will lead to the following core business benefits –

  1. Agility from orchestration: By harnessing the power of Service Integration and DevOPs, an agile and experience-oriented business, with programmable infrastructure, application releases, and catalogue-based services, can be created.
  2. Simplicity from autonomics: Artificial and predictive analytics will drive self-healing, self-service, and proactive support, while minimising waste and establishing “elastic IT”. This will simplify enterprise system workings and enable “up-place” workforce to handle higher level tasks.
  3. Being lean through automation: Automating repetitive tasks will result in waste reduction, workforce optimisation, and efficiency point improvements.

Real life cases in example
Take the instance of a real life impact case – a top manufacturing company was grappling with error-prone and slow-paced IT. This was affecting the whole process of optimising IT resources and customer experience while leaving large and inefficient data centre footprints. To address the issue, the company implemented a true enterprise-class hybrid environment, with automated provisioning, optimised workloads across on-premise, virtual private cloud, and public cloud. The business-IT interface was transformed digitally, with a slick online catalogue to plan, provision, and de-provision resources. A customisable and dynamic web-based user experience for both users and IT staff was generated successfully, leading to reduced average server provisioning time, lower footprints, and data centre consolidation.

On a similar strain, a large utilities company was struggling to cope with a complex distribution system, high mean time to resolve (MTTR), and faltering customer experience. The challenges were resolved by enabling proactive network infrastructure management along with automated capacity analysis and management. IT Processes were streamlined as per ITSM best practices defined by ITIL. MTTR was reduced, and so was ticket volume, leading to improved SLA across the board.

The journey ahead
The reasons for the popularity of AI are clear – the way AI, machine learning and automation will impact every aspect of our lives. For example, while it’s enticing to think about self-driving cars, it’s mind boggling to imagine how it may change the society. Think. What will happen to cab drivers? How will the drivers make living? What’ll happen to the car industry? Will those cars eliminate pollution and accidents? While we may not have answers to these questions yet, it’s important to make technological progresses that will impact the lower and the middle class groups. Technological transformations, including faster AI breakthroughs are going to bring a great level of relief to this ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor; AI benefits are going to be visible even to the poorest. Remember how the lower income group is donning smart phones these days!

Yet, the Wait is Long! Despite the day-to-day developments in technologies, the creation of intelligence that imitates human brains is still far from where we stand today. While it’s just a matter of time, it may not happen very soon. While everything mentioned above seems enticing for us as AI mavens, a lot of it is going to keep us all up – almost all-night-long for months, or maybe years. We did not see the advances in AI coming in such superfast manner. Every improvement in AI is beyond what we expected and will continue to challenge our imagination. We got to pull up our socks, and make it work for a better business world, which is much friendlier to our society!