The AI Gap

img_20160719_155202-cutDuring the first decade of 21st century we observed fast development of hardware technologies which gave us smartphones, tablets, video cameras at each second corner, high performance servers, and notebooks — and all these items could be touched by your hands, sensed by fingers; and in some cases you were able to use them in your business. Someone uses QR-codes, the other one uses RFID labels (e.g. all bookstores implemented this technology). There is no single shop without remote video monitoring. Shortly speaking, you can see this technology by your eyes, you can touch and therefore understand it somehow.

Today, we are talking about some virtual concepts. Managers, even those not using Internet, are hearing about Cloud Technology, Big Data, Blockchain, Data Science, Machine Learning and even about Artificial Intelligence.

All these thingies are growing rapidly. Traditional split of IT to hardware, software and services do not work anymore. These new concepts represent a mash of all three and even more — these are concepts which break business approach.

Not even all IT Directors have a time to track the news. Some do not understand the sense of Big Data. So what to say about ordinary employees, those who are far from IT (well, we all are now involved of course: modern smartphone is more powerful than mainfraime 30 years ago). I heard the opinion that Big Data means everything that is bigger than one screen of figures in Excel 😉

But look, these new technologies (thingies) significantly affect department managers (or line of business managers — LOB) even more than IT managers:

  • Big Data, Analytics, AI are all solutions for specific business tasks; they are not just universal IT tools anymore.
  • These solutions require radical revision of departments’ abilities and cardinal transformation of business processes.

In the real life, daily tasks of LOBs are far away from these concepts. It seems often that these managers hasn’t even heard about the tech revolution. A manager would say here: «Well, well, let others implement this thingy and then we will look how does it work, do we even need in it. Ten years ago you also offered me 8-core processors and super-fast storage and other stuff; when we finally had required those, we just invested bucks and now we are at good competition with others». However the difference is that this investment will give you nothing now. Purchase of equipment, software and technology will increase your CAPEX and nothing more. Even the hiring of a dozen of inhouse Data Scientists doesn’t help.

The one who implements this solution right now becomes the leader forever. All the other can just catching up, or they can becoming very local leaders and wait while to be eaten by global monsters.

So what I wanted to say. There is the gap between technology leaders and other businesses. While IBM, Google, Microsoft and Amazon tell you about Artificial Intelligence, companies do not understand what are they talking about. Companies in this context are all the businesses out of worldwide top-1000. By the way there are hundreds of millions of such.

Adoption of these solutions is stopped not only because of lack of education/ understanding but because of the necessity of business transformation as well. Implementation of any of these new solutions require transformation of business and people. People are not ready. It looks like the figures below representing company resources for modern technology adoption are correct:

  • 45% — enablement, i.e. change in employees’ mind: learning, understanding, role shift, etc.,
  • 33% — deployment, i.e. transformation of a business process making tech and business compatible,
  • 22% — technology itself.

(figures from Intuit, they are talking about MarTech, but seems it’s a similar proportion for all modern solutions)

As we can see, almost half of efforts is dedicated to work with people. And in the future this gap between human’s understanding and robot’s intellect become wider.

IT companies spend a lot of efforts educating audience: free events, witepapers, video courses, webinars, etc., but these approaches require the goodwill from people to learn and to be transformed. But you know that comfort zone doesn’t let us to leave it. Everything is working so far, competitors didn’t start to deploy any of these thingies. So we also can sleep, hopefully retirement comes before AI.

I believe that the gap will only grow. (Exponentially? maybe). In five years the business landscape will be completely different: one global company in each major industry — global oligarchy. And we can do nothing about this. Just to jump into the train today and occupy vacant space of a leader.

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