As we embark on a new year, there’s one question on nearly everyone’s mind: “Where will AI take us next?” The potential impact of artificial intelligence on the business world came into sharp focus in 2023, leaving many business leaders eager to harness the power of this game-changing technology.
One way is to follow the developments and listen to the advice of experts as to how best to incorporate AI into your business strategy. Another way to prepare for the lightning-fast pace of AI innovation is to take note of the carefully developed outlook of leaders in the AI and automation market.
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One such leader is Prince Kohli, CTO of Automation Anywhere, a company delivering AI-based, cloud-native automation software that we follow closely at Acceleration Economy. Kohli recently shared a set of AI predictions (provocatively titled “Innovate or Stagnate”), and we caught up with him to discuss his outlook in more detail.
Enterprise AI Predictions
Kohli made the following five predictions:
Automation and AI will drive billions of dollars in enterprise value rapidly: Kohli predicts that this value will only be achieved by companies implementing combined AI and automation as a core enterprise architecture rather than a helpful tool to cut costs.
The Chief AI Officer will disappear: Although a relatively new concept, Kohli believes the Chief AI Officer role will become obsolete, and instead, their responsibilities will be absorbed by the CTO.
Bad actors will use AI to influence critical events, with immediate effects: “Now, anyone and everyone possesses the capability to craft convincing AI-generated content,” says Kohli. “This amplifies the potential for widespread misinformation and manipulation, amplifying the challenges in safeguarding the integrity of critical events or simple business transactions.”
Governments will fail to define effective AI governance and security guidelines: While Kohli recognizes the efforts made by governments to implement AI guardrails, he believes the road ahead is long, and success is far from imminent.
AI’s hype will yield all too much vaporware: Kohli predicts that more and more organizations will jump on the AI bandwagon. Still, many of these offerings will be overinflated and lacking the technical capabilities they promise.
The Dark Side of AI
We began our conversation with Kohli by asking him to explain some of his more wary predictions, and how customers can avoid negative outcomes.
“I think putting controls on data will be very important for companies and making sure data is high quality,” he says. “Right now, data can be low quality and no one really cares because it is not being used very often, but data has to be high quality. Every company with a lot of data will have to put together an architecture for data management.”
Kohli explained that companies need to start thinking about the capacity of their databases to manage large amounts of data to create or fine-tune models. Beyond this, there must be a focus on the customer and a pressing need to ensure data is anonymized and doesn’t violate compliance policies.
Kohli believes that most organizations should work with vendors before developing their models. He cites cloud computing as an example of where this approach has worked. “When cloud computing came into [existence], there was an argument continuously being made [about whether] companies should build their own data centers, and there are good reasons to do that,” he says. “But it turns out that in the long term, it’s not viable except for very few companies. And the reason is the amount of investment it takes to make a truly broad cloud platform.”
“The same thing occurs in AI,” continues Kohli. “Building a good foundation model requires $50 million or more. It also is harder now than it used to be. You have to, every year or two years, refresh the model, and there is no good way to do a cheap refresh, [you] have to build it from scratch, and that’s very expensive.”
Customers’ Ambitions: Reimagine Business
Therefore, explains Kohli, companies will have to rely on other people to provide foundation models, tools, and services to stay up to date with the technology.
Yet, Kohli is bullish about what companies can achieve when they do commit to AI, based on Automation Anywhere’s engagements with customers. “I would say that almost every customer we have is trying to play with the new tools that we have,” he says. “The stunning part is that some of them are saying ‘I am not going to be using this to just improve a process, I’m going to be using this to completely reimagine the way I do things’.”
“If you want to change something, you don’t say ‘I’m gonna change by 5%’ because that doesn’t need to change. You want to say ‘I’m gonna change by 50 or 80%,’ right? Therefore, what they are saying is ‘I’m not going to see if I can make an impact of $1,000,000 or $2,000,000; I’m going to make an impact of half a billion or a billion dollars’.”
“That is a level of ambition that the larger companies have, and it is not surprising.”