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Over the past few years, cloud computing has revolutionised the tech industry. It is now a staple component of modern software solutions that can be used for a diverse range of purposes, from storing and sharing documents and data through to accounting, collaboration, and file backup.
However, as advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) continue to come at a rapid pace, cloud computing is set to enter an entirely new era. Businesses that can harness the true potential of the “Intelligent Cloud” will put themselves head and shoulders above the competition.
Applying AI in business
The consumer world is not new to AI-based systems. Products like Siri, Cortana and Alexa have been on the market for a while now. These virtual assistants use AI technology in a variety of ways (voice command recognition, automatic reminder setting etc.) to make life easier for owners. However, business applications for AI are of a different nature.
Automation and intelligent systems are now being implemented to perform vital business functions, such as turning databases into useful intel and using past buying patterns to predict consumer behaviour. The need for smarter and faster decision making in the management of big data is the driving factor behind the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence in today’s marketplace.
IBM, one of the market leaders in the cloud computing space, stated that the fusion of AI and cloud computing “promises to be both a source of innovation and a means to accelerate change.” The cloud can help provide AIs with the information they need to learn, while the AIs can generate new information and insights which gives the cloud more data. This symbiotic relationship will no doubt come to shape the future of AI.
This point of convergence between big data and artificial intelligence will also reshape every aspect of the modern enterprise. Deloitte has predicted that over 80% of the largest enterprise software companies will integrate AI functionality into their products by the end of this year, and expects that by 2020, 95% of the top 100 enterprise software companies will have AI-enabled apps.
Almost every aspect of our computing behaviour is now influenced by machine-learning algorithms that remember everything from our choices in music subscription services, to our desired merchandise in online shopping.
Businesses can also leverage AI to predict system failures by recognising the patterns in which they occur through AI-based business intelligence software. This type of application can be an AI program that monitors business activities and alerts businesses when and where a problem arises.
The explosion of data brought about by the Internet of Things (IoT) and apps, as well as the increasing demand for real-time decision making means that AI is fast becoming a key differentiator and requirement for major cloud providers.
For example, Amazon recently became the first public cloud provider to blend AI with cloud storage to help customers secure data. The new service, called Amazon Macie, relies on Machine Learning to automatically discover, classify, and protect sensitive data stored in AWS. This service reports potential risks involved with the stored data, its permissions, and access patterns.
In early 2017, Microsoft launched Cognitive Services on Azure. These services expand on Microsoft’s evolving portfolio of machine learning APIs and enable developers to easily add intelligent features – such as emotion and video detection; facial, speech and vision recognition; and speech and language understanding – into their applications. Microsoft has stated that their goal with this project is to enhance productivity through the creation of systems that can increasingly see, hear, speak, understand and even begin to reason.
By leveraging AI-as-a-service businesses around the globe can innovate solutions to those tough-to-crack problems. Outsourcing AI in this way allows smaller companies to focus primarily on powering and developing their applications. The main differentiating factor between competing vendors in the “Intelligent Cloud” space will be how the technology is applied to improve business processes and strategies. Which vendor will emerge as the leader in this space is still unclear.
However, one thing is certain – the only way to guarantee smarter business processes, more agility, and increased productivity is to plan ahead for the big changes on the horizon. Increasing investment in AI certainly seems like a good place to start.