Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most hyped technologies around, touted to disrupt industries and entire ways of working. John Gikopoulos, Global Head of Artificial Intelligence & Automation at Infosys Consulting, reflects on five of the biggest artificial intelligence developments that can be expected this year.
AI will have the most revolutionary impact on our personal and working lives of perhaps any technology in recent memory. While the technology enjoyed much hype in 2018, 2019 will be the year when AI’s true impact becomes unavoidable. But its effects will reach beyond products and devices – AI will transform job roles and create new industries; it will spawn new challengers that will threaten long-established businesses that fail to plan adequately for the brave new world of artificial intelligence.
How can organisations plan for the impact of AI on their business, operations, and corporate structure? At Infosys Consulting, we’ve identified five of the biggest developments that we can expect – and prepare for – in 2019.
Death of CIO?
We expect to see the traditional role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) wither away, and we predict that there will be half as many CIOs in 2021 as there are today. Don’t worry – we’re not saying that businesses will make their CIOs redundant, but rather that the role will evolve out of existence.
Where once their responsibilities were purely technical, the central strategic importance of new technologies such as AI and automation means that CIOs are increasingly straddling the boundary between business and IT. Businesses need their CIOs more than ever, even as the role changes – they should be championing the capabilities of technology at the board level, while keeping IT tightly-focused on the business’s strategic goals.
Experience over youth
The human factor is of paramount importance to successful AI and automation projects, but skills are scarce. In the next 12 months we will see a significant investment in training human resources, and much of this money being spent on retraining tenured professionals to become data scientists and solution architects. With technical skills so scarce, no real skills pyramid and little in the way of a recognised career path, we’ll see many of these “new” experts being aged 40 and above, bringing their considerable experience and existing skillsets into their new roles.
Rise of the ‘HR Idol’
With AI skills at a premium, the role of HR within businesses will multiply in importance. Not only must they work harder to hire and retain talented, knowledgeable workers, but they will also invest significant time and resources in training / retraining. As such, experts at Infosys Consulting predict that 2019 will see the beginning of a major wage increase for HR professionals working within technology domains, with competition for the best HR workers also hotting up. The best HR professionals – those that can support their employers’ ambitions to deliver new, intelligent products and services by maintaining a skilled workforce – will become ‘HR Idols’, valued throughout the company (but especially by management).
Supply chains will impede AI gains
Don’t assume that all technologies advance at the same rate. In the next year, one of the biggest AI and automation challenges facing the CIO will be the failure of supply chains (especially in the last mile) to keep up with the improved efficiencies enabled by AI. We predict that 20% of the value of these technologies will be lost due to physical constraints such as congestion, infrastructure, and workforce limitations. These challenges will need the direct involvement of the CIO, highlighting how the role is developing to encompass a much wider array of strategic responsibilities.
AI becomes the norm for healthcare
AI and automation are becoming more prevalent in healthcare, but 2019 will mark the point at which it becomes a routine part of the patient journey. Infosys Consulting predicts that by mid-2020, two in three patients with any condition will be supported by AI-related technologies, either as part of diagnostics, treatment, or administration. While this may be invisible to the patients themselves, healthcare providers from doctors’ surgeries to PCTs will reap the benefits of greater efficiencies as well as better insight into health conditions and their treatment.
This list is not intended to be exhaustive: after all, each organisation will approach AI with its own unique set of priorities. What’s important, however, is that they do not succumb to either the hype or the disillusion that surrounds artificial intelligence. Organisations must forge their own path – and that means being ready for the revolution.