This blog is part of our ongoing series, IPsoft’s 2019 AI Trends, detailing what we believe will be the dominant developments and movements in the Enterprise AI market next year. These blogs will be published regularly through the end of the year.

Marty Cooper, a Motorola executive, is widely credited as having made the first phone call from a portable device in 1973. Motorola made this phone, the DynaTac, commercially available eleven years later for an astounding $3,995. Only 1,200 DynaTacs were sold. However, as physical, technological and monetary access to mobile technology increased, so did adoption. New use cases and improved user experiences made mobile technology crucial to how people worked and played. In short, mobile technology was made available, affordable, enjoyable and useful. Flash forward a few decades, and more than five billion mobile devices are in use around the world.

The same evolution is occurring for Artificial Intelligence (AI), and its ubiquitous nature will be even more pronounced in 2019. As people learn to create and imagine new forms of AI, new use cases will emerge that will allow people to communicate, work, have fun and even save lives. Eventually, AI will become infused in everything we do on digital channels. We will buy clothing using AI shopping assistants. We will find cars to test drive by speaking to a digital salesperson. We will get medical information via AI-enabled devices without having to leave our homes. At work, we’ll ask AI to automate simple tasks, we’ll speak to AI to fill out lengthy forms, and AI will tell us how to do our jobs faster and more intelligently.

As this AI ubiquity accelerates, enterprises will need to adjust their IT investment strategies to ensure that AI is a centerpiece of any plans. AI is following the path of similar enterprise technology trends of the past: Market hype followed by adoption from early innovators and development of initial use cases, to wider adoption with more use cases, until finally the technology is so commonplace that it’s no longer considered new, simply an accepted part of a modern enterprise IT strategy. To name just a few examples: PCs, the Web, client-server systems, e-commerce, open source software, cloud computing and, yes, mobility.

To facilitate AI’s ubiquity throughout societies, government agencies are dedicating vast resources to research and production. China has already committed $7 billion in AI investment through 2030. The European Union will invest $24 billion in AI projects during the next two years. The United Kingdom alone recently invested $200 million for AI projects. The US National Science and Technology Council in 2016 unveiled a plan for AI research and development, although many of the recommendations have yet to be acted upon. Meanwhile, most of the world’s highest-value tech firms, the majority of which are US-based, have already debuted at least nascent AI projects for work and leisure.

AI Moving to the Center

In the short term, we predict five massive steps toward AI ubiquity starting next year:

    • First, AI will become a fixture in IT operations at major global enterprises. If technology experts are not using AI in their everyday roles by now, they will undoubtedly be doing so before 2020.
    • Second, consumers will begin to interact with AI directly when searching for products. Instead of typing in a search phrase and letting Google’s AI find the appropriate links, people will converse with AI directly via voice interfaces.
    • Third, email will inch closer to obsolescence as conversational AI, like text messaging, chat tools and social media before it, will be the next technology to replace how some people choose to communicate. Communicating with a coworker will mean simply speaking a message to a cognitive interface and AI will deliver it via chat.
       
    • Fourth, companies will begin to apply AI to help them build global, remote workforces that are able to seamlessly collaborate via agile, flexible and intuitive employee services.
    • Finally, business users will begin to see a dramatic change in how they use technology, driven primarily by cognitive interfaces. Instead of using dozens of disconnected applications to handle everyday tasks, employees will interact with a single cognitive interface that is connected to every application. Want to send a message to a client? Ask AI to write it for you. Want to create a log in your CRM tool stating that the message was sent? Tell AI to do so. Want to notify your manager that the log was created? Build an automation that sends a notification whenever a new log is created.

Sound too far-fetched or way far off in the future? Again, think about how mobility is now so commonplace. In 2008, if you used your phone to order takeout, you probably called a restaurant and placed your order with an employee. A decade later, people are just as if not more likely to order food using mobile delivery apps such as GrubHub. The same is increasingly true for activities like snapping a photo, listening to music, entering a ballpark or sending a friend a long message – all via mobile devices.

AI, meanwhile, already permeates our everyday consumer lives in ways that many don’t even realize or consider, and it is slowly but surely moving into our work lives as well. For example, thanks to visual information culled from previously tagged posts, Facebook knows which friends to tag when a user posts a photo. Netflix recommends new movies based on a user’s previous selections. Google Maps tells drivers how long a trip will take and adjusts that estimate based on traffic.

These simple forms of AI operate in the background, without calling attention to the mathematics and science behind the functionality. As a result, AI, in a very unique way, is becoming second-nature. Just as you wouldn’t say “I used AI to tag you in a photo” when discussing a Facebook post, soon you will not mention AI when discussing more complex tasks, including work activities. For example, you will not say, “I used AI to automate expense report submission.” Instead, you’ll say, “I submitted my expenses.” The fact that you used AI to make the submission will be implied.

If you don’t already see AI as a critical part of your work and leisure, 2019 will mark a turning point. And if this sounds more like science fiction than the dawn of a ubiquitous technology, remember that not so long ago, some viewed the future of the mobile phone in the same skeptical way.

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