i3 - March/April 2018 - 51

By Steve Koenig

Business

M A R K E T B E AT

Artificial Intelligence Gets Real in 2018

F

rom all indications at CES 2018, artificial intelligence
(AI) has quickly become the coolest trend - and buzzword - in consumer technology today. Yet AI has been
quietly operating behind the scenes for years. While the likes
of professors and scientists have been familiar with AI, the technology has quickly gained the interest of investors and other
large companies looking to reap commercial benefits and more.

Fact is, while AI has quickly become
omnipresent, the technology is still
in its infancy with AIs performing
automated tasks and other straightforward endeavors. AI is also going beyond
business processes to engage with
consumers through digital assistants -
perhaps the most palpable manifestation of AI technology.

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Robust Adoption

Although today's AIs are deemed "narrow" due to their orientation on specific
tasks (such as natural language processing or computer vision), business investments behind them are getting fatter
each year. A December 2015 study conducted by Bank of America/Merrill
Lynch projects that the total AI market
(valued at $2 billion in 2015), will grow
C TA . t e c h / i 3

also improving the customer experience
through predictive analysis for product
purchases, therefore personalizing the
purchase journey.

Digital Assistants Lead

At the vanguard of AI customer service
are digital assistants like Amazon
Alexa and Google Assistant. The capabilities of digital assistants, once limited
in performing very specific tasks, have
now expanded to interact
with the user, other devices and
Sony's
third-party apps through innovaKazuo Hirai at
tion in natural language processCES 2018.
ing, APIs, machine learning
and more. As a result, consumer enthusiasm for digital assistants is reaching
elephantine proportions.
For example, digital assistants are
percolating in the consumer market via
devices like smart speakers. CTA's January
2018 industry forecast shows unit shipments of smart speakers will top 43.6 million units, a 60 percent gain over 2017
sales of 27.2 million units. Smart speakers
were a huge seller during holiday 2017
and, based on the forecast, CTA believes
roughly one out of four U.S. households
now own at least one smart speaker. The
to $36 billion by 2020, and to $127 bilrapid rise of digital assistants in the conlion by 2025. And a July 2017 survey
sumer experience has made support for
of IT and business decision makers
them table stakes in the industry - across
conducted by Teradata shows a robust
the device landscape and services sector.
AI adoption rate. Some 80 percent
Looking a few years down the road,
of respondents reported some form of
self-driving vehicles and smart cities are
AI is already in production in their
technological developments that will be
organization, and, not surprisingly,
made possible through the "deep learn42 percent said there is room for further
ing" by AIs, enabling them to make
implementation across the business.
decisions similar to human intelligence
Optimization through automation
(like a driver, for example).
is the name of the game when it comes
That said, these AIs will require
to AI application in commercial and
a new set of human jobs focused on
industrial sectors. For example, AI's abilsupporting AI systems. Humans in
ity to automate processes and analyze
these roles complement the tasks
large data sets in real time is one reason
performed by AI systems to ensure
the technology is being applied broadly
the systems are reliable, responsible,
in retail. On the operational side, AIs
and ethical. After all, aren't two heads
are being used to manage inventory
(or minds) better than one?
across the entire store chain. AIs are
MARCH/APRIL 2018

51


http://www.CTA.tech

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i3 - March/April 2018

Contents
i3 - March/April 2018 - Cover1
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i3 - March/April 2018 - Contents
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i3 - March/April 2018 - Cover3
i3 - March/April 2018 - Cover4
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