The next generation of digital business models and ecosystems with artificial intelligence

2018 will be a year of exciting opportunities and growth! Every year at this time we see a lot of predictions. The beginning of 2018 is no different. And for this new year we will see a lot of innovative technologies getting the recognition to lead the next generation of digital business models and ecosystems.

So, let’s start with Artificial Intelligence or simply AI. Well, AI is not something new. As a matter of fact, in 1950 English Mathematician Alan Turing published a paper entitled “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” which opened the doors to the field that would be called AI. This was years before the community adopted the term Artificial Intelligence as coined by John McCarthy. But it wasn’t until recent years that AI got its place in the major league. And AI is now shaping to be the foundation driving digital initiatives for years to come. The ability to use AI to enhance decision making, reinvent business models and ecosystems, and remake the customer experience will drive the payoff for digital initiatives through 2025.

Given the steady increase in inquiry calls, it’s clear that interest is growing. A recent Gartner survey showed that 59% of organizations are still gathering information to build their AI strategies, while the rest have already made progress in piloting or adopting AI solutions.

Although using AI correctly will result in a big digital business payoff, still there are a lot of new areas where AI can be applied efficiently. Narrow AI, consisting of highly-scoped machine learning solutions that target a specific task (such as understanding language or driving a vehicle in a controlled environment) with algorithms chosen that are optimized for that task, is where the action is today. For this reason, companies should focus on business results enabled by applications that exploit narrow AI technologies. For example, this has been the foundation of GeneXus for the past 30 years. And where it’s possible to automate process and tasks is where AI works best. GeneXus’ AI foundation is based on creating processes and tasks that eliminate duplication of efforts and makes execution faster, saving time for their users.

In the coming year, there will be another great proliferation of Intelligent Apps and Analytics which will be a growing trend for years to come. As a matter of fact, over the next few years every app, application and service will incorporate AI at some level. AI will run unobtrusively in the background of many familiar application categories while giving rise to entirely new ones. AI has become the next major battleground in a wide range of software and service markets, including aspects of ERP.

Intelligent apps also create a new intelligent intermediary layer between people and systems and have the potential to transform the nature of work and the structure of the workplace, as seen in virtual customer assistants and enterprise advisors and assistants.

Contrary to what many think, AI and Intelligent apps won’t be replacing people. Instead, companies should look to explore intelligent apps as a way of augmenting human activity. In fact, augmented analytics is a particularly strategic growing area that uses machine learning for automating data preparation, insight discovery and insight sharing for a broad range of business users, operational workers and citizen data scientists (you can read this post about new jobs in the Digital Transformation).

When using GeneXus as the creation tool for developing apps, the powerful foundation of AI works for the benefit of the business. The reason is that employees can invest their time defining the best approach to grow the business instead of wasting hours and hours writing code, with a lot of errors that will need additional time to get fixed. Using the power of AI, it is possible to create intelligent apps with less to optimize resources in areas more critical for better business results.

From Intelligent Apps, we get Intelligent Things. In turn, intelligent things use AI (another clear example that AI is here and will impact every strategy moving forward – companies that refuse to adopt the implementation of AI are fated to fail badly) and machine learning to interact in a more intelligent way with people and surroundings. Some intelligent things wouldn’t exist without AI, but others are existing things (i.e., a camera) that AI makes intelligent (i.e., a smart camera). These things operate semi-autonomously or autonomously, in an unsupervised environment for a set amount of time to complete a task. Examples include a self-directing vacuum or autonomous farming vehicle. As the technology develops, AI and machine learning will increasingly appear in a variety of objects ranging from smart healthcare equipment to autonomous harvesting robots for farms.

As intelligent things proliferate, expect a shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a swarm of collaborative intelligent things. In this model, multiple devices will work together, either independently or with human input. The leading edge of this area is being used by the military, which is studying the use of drone swarms to attack or defend military targets. It’s evident in the consumer world in the opening example showcased at CES, the consumer electronics event.  And this is also an area where GeneXus is investing: the creation of an autonomous farming vehicle that will connect with different intelligent things, from weather prediction sensors to soil analysis, to define the task to be completed. All will be developed based on GeneXus’ AI foundation.

Another trend is Blockchain; it is a shared, distributed, decentralized and tokenized ledger that removes business friction by being independent of individual applications or participants. Blockchain allows untrusted parties to exchange commercial transactions. This technology holds the promise to change industries, and although the conversation often surrounds financial opportunities, blockchain has many potential applications in government, healthcare, content distribution, supply chain and more. However, many blockchain technologies are immature and unproven, and are largely unregulated. GeneXus is investing in blockchain technology to be part of its offering in 2018. This will add a lot of edge to the GeneXus solution, increasing protection and workflow.

With the advent of AI, Intelligent Apps, the IoT, Intelligent Things and other technologies, businesses can more quickly analyze market opportunities, customer needs and competition actions – acting or reacting faster and taking the right decision to succeed. If in 2017, Digital Transformation was the marketing buzz; in 2018, it will become a reality. In order for companies to flourish in this new world, they will need to pay much more attention to AI, Machine Learning and their correlated technologies.

What do you think?

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