Everybody involved within the IT industry is aware of one inescapable fact, nothing works in isolation. Software needs to run on hardware, that needs to be provided with connectivity. Everything is interconnected, interrelated and reliant on many other factors. In order to achieve even a seemingly simple thing can require background tasks of almost Herculean engineering, most of which is usually hidden from the gaze of users.
Computer Weekly picked up on this ‘combination therapy’ concept as they discussed the ongoing desire for businesses to obtain workplace productivity through the effective use of IT. They illustrate that through combining existing and mature technologies, such as cloud, with the more emerging techniques of applied artificial intelligence (AI), then it is possible to obtain productivity gains.
They are at pains to point out that in the past, “Managing the process of digitisation through the cloud, particularly when done at increasingly large scale, has become unsustainably complex. Processes become jumbled, admin-heavy, and offset by unavoidable human error”, and how this has led to a “slowdown in productivity’, but are confident that the technology industry is at heart driven by a desire to continue to solve problems. And as we all know problems can rarely be solved in isolation.
The digital transformation drum got beaten by Forbes magazine this week as they published a five-step plan for businesses keen to take this journey.
Their recommendations followed the ‘combination’ theme as they discussed how everything from cultural considerations and C-Suite buy-in needs to be achieved if this process is to yield the desired results. However, the one point out of the five that offered most consideration is point four “Be Smart About What You Build Versus What You Buy”.
This realistic piece of advice advocates sourcing external services, but in a very honest way. And by honest, they mean what a company can realistically build themselves internally. They strongly suggest that “When deciding on what to outsource, be mindful of what differentiates your business. If a digital service doesn’t align with a core competency, then it’s better to outsource”.
Digital transformation is a journey that can’t be taken alone.
AI continues to dominate the technology headlines as it is being seen as a saviour for all manner of previous ills and an opportunity to obtain the benefits of automation and productivity that have never been realised in the past. But AI is also not working in isolation and is taking input from what many may deem a surprising source – ethics.
The influential US title, WIRED, published a compelling piece by Mustafa Suleyman from Deepmind, an AI company that sits within the Google stable of businesses. Suleyman stated that “The successful integration of AI technologies into our social and economic world creates its own challenges. They could either help overcome economic inequality or they could worsen it if the benefits are not distributed widely”
He strongly suggests and predicts that during 2018 “the study of the ethics, safety and societal impact of AI is going to become one of the most pressing areas of enquiry over the coming year”.
The social impacts of AI really do need to be understood or at least considered from many angles before it’s wide-scale adoption can be undertaken with a sense of benefit as opposed to risk.
As Suleyman states “If we manage to get AI to work for people and the planet, then the effects could be transformational”, sounds like a potentially positive combination and that’s what modern-day IT is all about.