AI – the most disruptive tech-trend in the history of IT
It may be small and insignificant such as asking Siri to set a reminder. It may be part of a larger scheme set up by your local council such as smart parking. But already our lives are being touched by forms of AI every day. While some may be waiting for some revolutionary new device or service, the boring reality is, just like the internet previously, most people won’t generally notice the transformation into the AI age, and it will only be as we look back that we will see the impact of the enormous change.
The danger for businesses is that it’s easy to think that developing a future strategy based on the advancement of AI is something that can be delayed. Let others do the groundwork, make the mistakes and you’ll charge in when the market has settled down a little and matured. I’m sure that’s what countless book stores thought when Amazon set up shop, or when Apple introduced the iPhone and network operators claimed it wasn’t a threat to their very established, very lucrative business.
So I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what the predictions are for the AI market. Not from myself who would undoubtedly be biased, but from some of the world’s leading research companies.
According to Tractica by 2025 the global annual revenues for AI based products and services will be $36.8 billion. That would make AI the fastest growing segment in the IT sector. But this only represents one section of the market. Transparency Market Research forecasts that the global artificial intelligence market will be closer to $ 3,061.35 billion in 2024.
Natural language is one of the key building blocks within AI. As devices become smaller or services are integrated into one device such as Amazon’s Alexa for example, then people need an easy way to communicate their needs either through voice or text. But this is not all. The AI application also needs to be intelligent enough to figure out for itself some of the things that users will implicitly expect such as knowing which app you prefer your music to be played through.
This is where Natural Language Interaction (NLI) technology, also referred to as Natural Language Processing (NLP) comes into force. It’s the techie bit that takes your “Play the latest Coldplay album on the living room speaker” and makes it happen.
RNR Market Research says that driven by increasing smart device usage, demand for enhanced customer experience, and potential growth in machine-to-machine technology, it expects the NLP market size to grow from USD 7.63 billion in 2016 to USD 16.07 billion by 2021. In 2016 alone the NLP market is predicted to grow approximately 28.3 percent according to Statista.
At the moment one of the most recognizable artifacts used in AI to communicate with technology is the virtual assistant. Coming in all shapes and sizes, they can be found on websites, mobile devices, hidden inside messaging apps, even in cars.
Transparency Market Research puts the market as worth US$7.9 billion by 2024, while Research and Markets says that the number of unique active consumer users of virtual assistants will grow from 390 million in 2015 to 1.8 billion worldwide by the end of 2021. Emphasizing if nothing else that how customers are going to expect to interact with business even of a basic level is about to change dramatically.
Currently the top businesses investing in AI technologies are those you would expect; namely Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft etc. But there are also a few more interesting companies such as Electronic Arts or Walmart that clearly see an opportunity. However, interestingly looking at the O’Reilly New Artificial Intelligence Market report there isn’t an industry that doesn’t have some of its major players investing in the technology.
So what are all these stats and observations telling us? Well, that AI is fast becoming an imperative for enterprises and that it is already reaching into our lives, both as consumers and as business people. And that if the research figures are to be believed – and I strongly think they are for real – then AI will be the most disruptive tech-trend in the history of IT.