IT staffers are supporting AI initiatives, but they often don't have the hardware resources those projects really need.
A little over a year ago, Network Computing examined some of the predictions about how artificial intelligence (AI) would affect IT infrastructure pros. In the months since then, AI and machine learning have invaded the enterprise.
Marianne Daquila, a research manager at IDC, noted in September that AI “has moved beyond the early adopters to mainstream industry-wide use case implementation.” She added, “Early adopters in banking, retail, and manufacturing have successfully leveraged cognitive/AI systems as part of their digital transformation strategies. These strategies have helped companies personalize their relationship with customers, thwart fraudulent losses, and keep factories running. Increasingly, we are seeing more local governments keeping people safe with cognitive/AI systems. There is no doubt that the predicted double-digit year-over-year growth will be driven by even more decision makers, across all industries, who do not want to be left behind.”
Given the tremendous growth in the AI and machine learning markets, now seemed like an ideal time to revisit those predictions and look at the impact AI is actually having on infrastructure professionals today. Current research shows that AI is affecting enterprise IT staff in five key ways:
1. IT teams are currently supporting AI initiatives
If your enterprise isn’t doing anything AI-related, you’re in the minority. A report titled Cognitive Diversity: AI and the Future of Work, based on a survey conducted by vendor Tata Communications and Ken Goldberg, professor of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 80 percent of organizations were using AI.
However, quite a few of those AI projects are still in the experimental stages. A separate study, the Interop ITX 2018 State of AI, revealed that about two-thirds of its respondents had AI initiatives underway, but only 12 percent of organizations were actually using AI in production.
2. Enterprises don’t have adequate IT infrastructure to support AI plans
Why aren’t more enterprises using AI in their production systems?
A big part of the problem is their existing infrastructure. When the Interop report asked IT decision-makers about the obstacles to AI, the number one response, cited by 37 percent of participants, was a lack of infrastructure.
The Constellation Research 2018 Artificial Intelligence Study found that in 32 percent of enterprises surveyed IT departments were resisting AI adoption. The reason? Seventy-eight percent of firms reporting IT resistance said that issues related to IT infrastructure were driving the opposition to AI.
This situation puts IT pros in a bind. They need to support AI, but they don’t have the right hardware in place to do so. The good news is that all of these surveys found that enterprises are increasing their AI budgets, which could remedy the situation.
3. AI is infiltrating IT tools
Anyone who has recently been in the market for new monitoring, log analysis, security, or infrastructure management tools has likely come across products with some machine learning capabilities. These tools aren’t in widespread use yet, but AI is definitely part of the conversation for organizations that are looking to update their IT management software.
4. Infrastructure professionals are learning more about AI
On a more personal level, many infrastructure pros are learning more about AI — either because they want to or because their employers are forcing them to. The Interop survey asked IT decision-makers what they were currently doing about AI, and the top three answers all revolved around learning. Respondents said they were learning from the successes or failures of early adopters, seeking advice from third-party experts/consultants, and training their existing staff.
Similarly, the Constellation Research report found that 60% of executives surveyed were training their staff about AI.
5. IT pros are adding AI skills to their resumes
After they receive that training, IT pros aren’t shy about sharing their new-found knowledge and skills with the world. When it comes to the information people share on their LinkedIn profiles, AI skills are the fastest-growing skills, increasing 190 percent between 2015 and 2017. And that’s likely a good strategy since 40 percent of those surveyed by Constellation said their organizations were looking to hire people with AI experience.
Clearly, AI has begun affecting IT infrastructure pros’ daily work and their career trajectories. And if the experts are right, it seems likely that this trend will continue for some time.