From cyber-security to IT ops to virtual assistants, expect AI to make a big splash in 2017
When I asked the startups featured in the Big 50-2016 to make their predictions for the year to come, more than half of their forecasts involved Artificial Intelligence. Certain sectors – such as cyber-security and Big Data – are bullish on AI for obvious reasons, but startups in fields as diverse as IT operations and cloud infrastructure are placing AI bets too.
Here, then, are 3 big AI predictions from Big50 startups:
1. Artificial Intelligence Will Transform IT Ops
IT infrastructure continues to become more complex, layered, and interconnected each year. As a result, IT operations teams struggle to keep up. Drowning in a flood of non-stop alerts from multiple consoles, ops teams are often forced to triage based on instinct and educated guesses.
But Artificial Intelligence could change that.
“In order to keep up with the exponential scale, complexity, and agility of IT applications and infrastructure, operations teams will increasingly embrace algorithmic solutions to replace traditionally manual tasks and processes,” says Assaf Resnick, CEO of BigPanda, a provider of AI-driven IT alert consolidation tools.
Resnick isn’t alone in this assessment. In fact, this area of the business is growing fast enough that research firm Gartner recently coined a new term to categorize technologies that facilitate automation in IT: AI Ops (for algorithmic IT operations).
“In 2017, we will see these tools become crucial to the success of enterprise IT, as organizations wake up to the fact that the only way they can offer highly available and reliable services is by applying an algorithmic approach to streamline operations and provide more robust digital customer experiences,” Resnick predicts.
2. AI Startups Will Be Juicy Acquisition Targets
As new AI, machine learning, and deep learning startups continue to attract big VC investments, the talent needed to turn these startups into success stories will come begin to dry up, which could end up sparking M&A activity.
“There’s no doubt a massive land grab [underway] for anything AI-, machine-learning or deep-learning-related. Major players as diverse as Google, Apple, Salesforce and Microsoft to AOL, Twitter, and Amazon drove the acquisition trend this year. Due to the short operating history of most of the startups being acquired, these moves are as much about acquiring the limited number of AI experts on the planet as the value of what each company has produced to date,” says Ramon Chen, CMO of Reltio, a startup that offers a cloud-based data management platform.
Chen believes that the major enterprise AI battle has already narrowed down to IBM Watson vs. Salesforce Einstein vs. Oracle’s Adaptive Intelligent Applications. For now. M&A activities could disrupt the battlefield, however.
“What’s well understood is that AI needs a consistent foundation of reliable data upon which to operate. With a limited number of startups offering these integrated capabilities, the quest for relevant insights and ultimately recommended actions that can help with predictive and more efficient forecasting and decision-making will lead to even more aggressive M&A activity in 2017,” Chen predicts.
3. 2017 Marks the Dawn of the AI Renaissance
If the predictions the Big50 startups are making are any indication, the hype around Artificial Intelligence will continue to build in 2017, with no end in sight. Big Data, home automation, and security startups are all bullish on AI, which is to be expected, but a range of other companies, from established tech behemoth IBM to aircraft giant Boeing, are investing heavily in AI, as well.
Guy Caspi, co-founder and CEO of Deep Instinct, a cyber-security startup that relies on deep learning for zero-day protection, believes that we are entering an AI Renaissance. The mainstreaming of Big Data along with cheap processing and open-source algorithm-based software means that AI is readily available to pretty much anyone with an Internet connection.
For startups in certain niches, such as cyber-security, this means that you need to use AI just to stay ahead of the bad guys – even the unskilled ones.
“With APT attacks on the rise, the daily growth of zero-day vulnerabilities, and the increase in cyber-attacks in general, an endpoint detection response that doesn’t include [AI-based] prevention will no longer suffice,” Caspi believes.
For instance, a detection-based solution will do little to counter ransomware, but, perhaps, an AI-based solution could outflank the bad guys before they even get started.
“As a result, we’re already seeing many cybersecurity companies incorporate AI capabilities, mainly machine learning, to their solutions. We expect more companies to integrate AI into their solutions to boost their protection capabilities,” Caspi predicts.
Tune back in tomorrow for more Big50 predictions about the cloud, machine learning, and virtual assistants.