Rethink AI in 2018 -- or risk failing

2018 will be the year that most enterprises realize AI and other emerging technologies will require hard work.
Written by Forrester Research, Contributor
Artificial Intelligence

Look right, look left, you'll see a fellow CIO contemplating their AI move. Failing to act is not an option in most organizations. However, as enterprises are kicking off their AI pilots or seeing early results, the honeymoon is over as enterprises that naively celebrated the cure-all promises of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies is over. Enterprises needed better data foundations. They underestimated the level of business expertise needed. They didn't anticipate the resources it takes. And enterprises needed to rethink their business models. The truth is, AI is hard!

Forrester predicts that 2018 will be the year when a majority of enterprises start dealing with the hard facts: AI and all other new technologies like big data and cloud computing still require hard work. Our 2017 predictions for data and analytics pointed to AI as the spark to the insights revolution. This came true: Survey respondents who told us their firm was investing in AI rose from 40 percent in 2016 to 51 percent in 2017. But success isn't easy -- 55 percent of firms have not yet achieved any tangible business outcomes from AI, and 43 percent say it's too soon to tell.

The wrinkle? AI is not a plug-and-play proposition. Unless firms plan, deploy, and govern it correctly, new AI tech will provide meager benefits at best or, at worst, result in unexpected and undesired outcomes. If CIOs and chief data officers (CDOs) are serious about becoming insights driven, 2018 is the year they must realize that simplistic lift-and-shift approaches will only scratch the surface of possibilities that new tech offers.

In Forrester's 2018 AI predictions released today, we provide CIOs working on data and analytic initiatives with pragmatic and tangible recommendations on how to act now with their AI initiatives. Here are just a few ways we predict AI will shape enterprises in 2018:

  • AI will reshape analytic and business innovation: A quarter of firms will supplement point-and-click analytics with conversational user interfaces, and AI will make decisions and provide real-time instructions at 20 percent of firms.
  • Big Data environments will evolve or suffer the same fate as yesterday's data management: One-third of enterprises will take their data lakes off life support in 2018, and half of firms will adopt a cloud-first strategy for big data analytics.
  • Firms will remake traditional data and analytic roles to activate insights: Two-thirds of firms will create customer insight centers of excellence, and data engineers will become the new hot job title in 2018.
  • The insights market landscape will become as complex as three-dimensional chess: The IaaS (Insights-as-a-Service) market will double, with 80 percent of firms relying on insights service providers for some portion of insights capabilities in 2018.

2018 will be the year that CIOs will realize that new technologies like AI require hard work. Forward-looking organizations will create new roles and processes to take full advantage of them -- not by simply shifting away from old architectures, but by redesigning their whole operating models to suit the new wave of technology.

By Boris Evelson, Vice President, Principal Analyst, and Michele Goetz, Principal Analyst

Forrester predicts 2018 will be a year of reckoning. Download our 2018 predictions guide to gain new insights and help catalyze action at your organization.

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