AI pervades every session at the annual IBM event.
The virtual event of “All Things IBM” has become “All Things AI”, from chips to software, Watson to SAP, and companies including SalesForce, Siemens, Natwest, Dow and others. Honestly, if I could search the Think transcripts for “AI”, I would find hundreds or even thousands of instances. Every session, every speaker, and most technologies discussed were about how AI is transforming the world. Let’s start with looking at a report on Global AI Adoption, released concurrently with the Think event, then look at some of the AI technologies, especially the new Watson Orchestrate. Be sure to look for my forthcoming Forbes blog on the IBM Research AI Hardware Center for more technical details.
AI Market Adoption: Good news and bad news.
In a report commissioned by IBM, Morning Consult found that almost one-third of IT professionals globally say they are deploying AI technology while almost half say their companies are evaluating AI. But the regional differences are huge, with roughly 50% of China and India respondents saying their companies have already deployed some AI, while all other countries lag far behind, at less than a 30% deployment rate. Also the report found that larger enterprises are 70% more likely to implement AI projects than smaller companies, and that over one-third of respondents reported that their company has not implemented any AI projects. (A list of those companies might provide a good prospect list for shorts.)
Watson Orchestrate for today; Hardware Composer for tomorrow.
IBM announced a preview release of a new Watson service called Watson Orchestrate, an AI that helps professional knowledge workers automate mundane tasks, and makes suggestions for further steps in a productive workflow. all through a natural language interface. The demo was pretty compelling, but it is not yet clear how widely this technology may be integrated with other software. IBM said Orchestrate could integrate with Slack, email, and calendars, and also provides pre-packaged skills that IBM has trained, so that is a pretty good start.
Last week, IBM Research AI Hardware Center announced a new tool, called the AI Hardware Composer, to help pave the way towards analog computing. The Composer provides access to IBM’s open-source analog libraries with an easy-to-use interface, allowing both novices and experienced developers to to create accurate AI models for future deployment on analog devices. AI researchers can test neural network optimization tools to design analog hardware-aware models. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is already designing coursework for students to learn how to exploit such models using IBM’s Composer. Note that a few companies, including Intel and Mythic, have begun to test early analog compute engines, so this journey is underway.
Ok, saying “AI” a thousand times does not make you an AI company, but IBM is keen to embed AI across its products and services where it can add business value. The Watson Orchestrate looks very powerful, but I would want to test it to evaluate it’s usefulness in everyday professional workflows. But make no mistake about IBM, they get that AI is eating the world, starting with their own Think event.