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How Does AI Fit into Your Long-Term Strategy?

Artificial intelligence (AI) was undoubtedly a hot topic at Enterprise Connect 2019 in March. While we can debate about how much of the talk was hype, and how much was really machine learning instead of true AI, the fact remains that AI is now part of our industry. AI already is in use to predict behavior and offer assistance to contact center agents, and in transcribing and translating speech in real time.
In his book, “AI Superpowers,” author Kai-Fu Lee points out that the very nature of AI is based on data. An AI system is trained using data. The accuracy of the results is directly related to the quantity of the data used to train the AI.
Lee asserts that AI’s “reliance on data for improvement creates a self-perpetuating cycle: better products lead to more users, those users lead to more data, and that data leads to even better products, and thus more users and data. Once a company has jumped out to an early lead, this kind of ongoing repeating cycle can turn that lead into an insurmountable barrier to entry for other firms.”
These early leads have already occurred, Lee says, pointing to “seven giants of the AI age”: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.
So what does this mean for the rest of us?
To take advantage of the advances offered by AI, the rest of us will need to find ways to access and utilize the resources of these AI leaders. It has become impractical for most organizations to build the computing resources needed to access and analyze their data. And that’s on top of the difficulty of acquiring these massive amounts of data in the first place.
Fortunately, AI-as-a-service (AIaaS) offerings provide an avenue for accessing the power of AI. They’re all cloud-based, available from public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and IBM Cloud.
From a strategic perspective, it’s clear that the innovation in AI will occur in the cloud. That’s where the data and the computing power resides. Taking advantage of AI means utilizing the cloud.
While the cloud isn’t right for everyone from a unified communications perspective, it may become a requirement to take advantage of AI. At a minimum, a hybrid environment is necessary. Advances in collaboration and contact center technology are utilizing AI, and these advances are available with cloud offerings. How long can premises-based solutions remain competitive?
If AI is part of your future, then the cloud must be as well. It’s not economically feasible for the rest of us to create and maintain an AI platform in a premises-based walled garden.
When planning the long-term strategy for your communications technology, make sure to put your organization in a position to take advantage of the competitive edge AI is expected to offer.
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"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.