Despite the hype, IT leaders are bullish that artificial intelligence is already having a commercial impact on their organisations.
According to the Harvey Nash 2019 Technology Survey, 42 per cent of respondents said they were either making or saving money by using AI.
The annual survey, which is one of the largest in the world, canvassed the views of 2070 technology professionals from 73 countries.
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When asked which technologies were making the biggest impact on their organisation, software as a service (SaaS), AI and Internet of Things (IoT) topped the list.
According to the report, the dominance of cloud services at 52 per cent was unsurprising, given the penetration of cloud services within organisations.
However the authors said the rise of AI was a surprise, noting the prominence of AI on the list could be attributed to the broad definitions people apply to the family of technologies.
“More interestingly is just how high AI is… Some of this might be down to different people’s definition of AI,” the report states.
“It is often the case that when a new technology begins to grow in usage, other existing technology is ‘rebadged’ with that new technology’s name. Whilst that probably is happening in the case of AI, our sense is that there is a genuine surge happening here. It will be interesting to see what this figure looks like next year.”
The Harvey Nash survey identified AI is being used across all sectors.
“What is also surprising is that, unlike most of the other emerging technologies we cover here, AI is being used quite widely across all sectors,” the report states.
“Regardless of the positives or negatives that are associated with this technology, the discussion is increasingly becoming ‘how do we work alongside AI?’ and those of you who have an eye on what is the ‘next big thing’ for your career, take note – AI could well be that thing.”
A recent report from McKinsey Global Institute argued the AI revolution is no longer in its infancy, but the main economic impact of artificial intelligence hasn’t yet arrived. The researchers predict companies that embrace AI will double their cash flow by 2030, while those that don’t could lose 20 per cent of their revenue.
The report noted few businesses now operate without Saas services. This trend is evident in the growth of SaaS providers such as Salesforce.
“The move to the cloud is accelerating. APAC is the fastest growing area for Salesforce and marketing cloud is the fastest growing area in APAC,” said Lee Hawksley, senior VP, Salesforce APAC.
He said the speed of growth is a marker of how organisations are pinning the future on cloud-based technology. But he cautioned that shift to SaaS solutions came with challenges.
“You can’t just flick a switch,” he said. “And one day have lots of back office legacy monolithic on-premise systems and the next day turn it all on in the cloud. The transformation is a migration. Integration has become a big issue for our customers over the last 18 and as more companies move to the cloud there is a greater need to integrate those legacy on-premise systems with multiple cloud systems to bring data together.”
Indeed it was these kinds of issues that fed into the rationale for Saleforce’s $6.5 billion purchase of API and integration vendor Mulesoft in March this year. The price paid provides some context for the scale of the problem.