"AI doesn't have to pretend to be a person to have a huge value to the world. It's about providing information and insight to humans so we can do a better job." -- Scott Crowder, CTO and VP of technical strategy and transformation, IBM Systems
"AI doesn't have to pretend to be a person to have a huge value to the world," says Scott Crowder, CTO and vice president of technical strategy and transformation at IBM Systems. "It's about providing information and insight to humans, so we can do a better job."
That's one reason why IBM prefers the term "intelligence augmentation" -- IA, not AI -- and defines its "Jeopardy" champion Watson supercomputer as "a cognitive computing technology that extends and amplifies human intelligence, working in partnership with professionals."
AI is already serving on the front lines of service and support via voice-enabled virtual customer agents like Amelia. But because it also excels at analyzing massive amounts of unstructured data, the technology is ideally suited for identifying potential security threats or helping drive business decisions.
That -- theoretically -- can free up IT professionals to spend time on higher-level tasks.
"Fundamentally, AI changes the business and operational dynamics in any industry by enabling machines to find answers and make decisions that humans make," says Tim Tuttle, founder and CEO of Mindmeld, makers of a conversational AI platform. "For example, AI can help field a much larger range of problems and answer those not requiring a person's time, giving IT people more time to focus on the difficult questions machines are not equipped to answer."
Early forms of AI, like robotic process automation, will have its greatest impact on IT, says Rob Brindley, a director at consulting firm Information Services Group. RPA will be deployed to automate mundane and highly repeatable tasks, such as monitoring systems, distributing software, rerouting workloads, support, and provisioning.
"Fundamentally, AI changes the business and operational dynamics in any industry by enabling machines to find answers and make decisions that humans make." -- Tim Tuttle, founder and CEO, Mindmeld
That process is already well underway. For the past eight years, IPsoft has been applying machine learning to problems like remote management of networks and other IT infrastructure. The company has created more than 20,000 "virtual engineers" -- AI-driven processes that can diagnose common problems and apply known solutions -- for clients like Cisco and IBM.
IPsoft's virtual engineers can handle nearly 60 percent of all incidents with no human intervention, says Jonathan Crane, chief commercial officer at IPsoft. When a virtual engineer runs into a problem it can't solve, it escalates to a human specialist who's trained in that particular issue.
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