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Gartner recommends CIOs get skilled up on deep learning

There may be some wacky predictions in Gartner's emerging trends hype cycle, but AI and even quantum computing need to be taken seriously right now

Smart dust, brain controlled computers and general artificial intelligence (AI) are among the technologies that could have an impact on IT in the not too distant future, according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2018 research.

“Business and technology leaders will continue to face rapidly accelerating technology innovation that will profoundly impact the way they engage with their workforce, collaborate with their partners, and create products and services for their customers,” said Mike J. Walker, research vice-president at Gartner.

“CIOs and technology leaders should always be scanning the market along with assessing and piloting emerging technologies to identify new business opportunities with high-impact potential and strategic relevance for their business.”

Walker said CIOs or a business decision maker can use predictions like the emerging trends of Hype Cycle as a reality check, helping them to prioritise what areas are likely to become established in the near future. “Some of these capabilities are being delivered in a rapid fashion,” said Walker.

Gartner’s predictions show that some technologies, particularly in the AI space such as deep learning, virtual assistants and custom silicon for AI, are likely to become mainstream within two to five years, which does not give CIOs much time to get ready.

As an example, Walker said the hospitality sector is being disrupted, such as at the Marriott hotel, which is building service bots to deliver room service. He said businesses across industry sectors are looking to create a seamless experience and AI is helping them to achieve this.

However, IT is is struggling to support these new business requirements because there is a significant lack of skills. “We predict that over the next two years, there will be a shortage of data scientists,” said Walker. At the same time, competition is hotting up in the AI market. “We see competitive forces, suppliers of technology and startups all base their products on AI.”

He said the major IT providers are pooling vast amounts of customer data and building out AI platforms as a service, which can be used by IT departments when they decide to run AI algorithms on these platforms.

Clean, unbiased data is key to successful AI implementations. “AI is a data discipline. The algorithms are only as smart as the data you give it,” said Walker. Going forward, he expects the major platform providers will lower the bar into AI, which means businesses will need to focus on the curation of the right information and the removal of bias.

Quantum computing is also one of the areas CIOs should be taking a close look at, because a quantum computer could render modern encryption methods useless. Microsoft and open source tools providers have released quantum programming languages, when means people can start experimenting with quantum computing concepts.

But even IBM, which has arguably done the most in terms of research and development into quantum computers, can only manage to achieve systems that are stable for a few milliseconds, said Walker.

Many of the major IT providers believe it will become commercially viable in next five to 10 years, but he said: “It is highly debatable what the capabilities of a quantum computer will be because the physics are still being worked out.”

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