Machine learning-as-a-service the way of the future: ServiceNow

With 'as-a-service' offerings, all organisations will need to do is ensure their data is rich and contextual enough to reap the rewards of machine learning, ServiceNow has said.

Enterprise cloud company ServiceNow is eyeing a future where organisations won't need to build out their own machine learning technologies, turning instead to service providers to offer the capability as-a-service.

In Australia for the ServiceNow Now Forum in Sydney on Wednesday, the company's global CMO Dan Rogers touted machine learning-as-a-service as the way forward for his company's customers.

"In Silicon Valley, there's a lot of buzz around machine learning, a lot of hype," he said.

"In fact, if you don't have artificial intelligence, natural language processing on your business card, you really don't exist."

Rogers said that ServiceNow -- and many of the other cloud vendors -- will look to provide machine learning-as-a-service, but it is dependent upon the customer to have a rich and contextual data set to be able to train.

"Machine learning needs a problem to fix, there are many vendors that just have the technology -- we think it's important to define exactly the problem that you're trying to fix and machine learning lends itself very well to ranking, to rating, to categorisation, and prediction."

ServiceNow recently surveyed 500 CIOs across 11 countries, finding Australia is leading the world on the implementation of automation and machine learning initiatives.

57 percent of Australian CIOs surveyed rated their organisation's use of machine learning as mature, based on assets deployed, employee skills, and the level of integration into businesses processes.

The global average, according to the ServiceNow report [PDF], was 38 percent.

Australia was followed by Germany, with 51 percent of those surveyed displaying maturity in the machine learning space, while the United States reported a 42 percent maturity, the United Kingdom 39 percent, and Singapore 32 percent.

"The research reveals that Australian companies are already implementing changes to organisational structures, processes, and training to accommodate digital labour, such as redefining job descriptions to focus on work with intelligent machines," The New Agenda for Transformative Leadership: Reimagine Business for Machine Learning report said.

32 percent of Australian CIOs reported that they are developing machine learning capabilities by building capacity within specialised internal teams, which was also flagged by ServiceNow as the highest globally.

In addition, 65 percent reported they had already made changes to IT structures to accommodate machine learning, with 57 percent saying they had initiated company-wide organisational changes.

Of those that identified barriers to successful integration of machine learning initiatives, 80 percent cited insufficient data quality; 78 percent said outdated processes substantially interfered in the success of the technology; 63 percent found regulatory complexity or uncertainty to be a hindering factor; and 59 percent reported that a lack of funding for technology and skills was limiting their abilities to successfully rollout the technology.

The report also highlighted that a majority of Australian CIOs expect machine learning to deliver significant value to their organisation, with 93 percent believing it will increase the speed and accuracy of decisions; 70 percent think that machine learning will increase competitiveness; 65 percent feel machine learning will deliver "top-line" growth; and 52 percent expect it to deliver increased employee productivity.

"Advances in machine learning are already starting to have a meaningful impact on the workplace, enabling organisations and individuals to reach previously unseen levels of productivity and growth. It's fantastic to see Australian enterprises leading the way," ServiceNow Australia and New Zealand managing director David Oakley added.

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