Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way industries do business. AI not only helps boost productivity, but it also positively impacts safety and other critical aspects of organizational success. And after after years of hype and promise, the technology not only has finally arrived -- but it appears as if it's here to stay. 

Explaining how the technology works, Maciej Kranz, VP, corporate strategic group, Cisco, said an AI system can enable such services as predictive maintenance, which multiples the value of the Internet of Things (IoT).

“With AI, users can learn patterns that lead to failures and make predictions such as... equipment failing if it is not serviced after a certain amount of time,” said Kranz. “The AI system might also recommend how to operate the equipment to maximize its useful life, offering trade-offs between performance and longevity.”

Machine learning makes analytics systems “smarter” as time progresses and more data sets and patterns become available. She even makes the analogy that AI is the brain, while IoT is the body.

“IoT provides both input (data) and output (action) for the smart computing and analytics function of a centralized AI system," she says. "By working smarter together, users can make better day-to-day or planning decisions, whether on a construction site or in a manufacturing facility or in a retail store.”

Kranz's comments are in line with current trends, as about 60 percent of companies believe their future success depends on the implementation of artificial intelligence, according to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review. Another 36 percent say their companies were in pilot or production use with machine-learning technology.

The good news is artificial intelligence can empower manufacturers to better address critical organizational tasks, according to content produced as part of AEM's Thinking Forward initiative. However, there are a number of challenges that are holding back widespread adoption that need to be addressed first before finding success with artificial intelligence.

Barriers to Widespread AI Adoption

A few key barriers are holding back widespread adoption of AI technology. Fortunately, though, key stakeholders within the industry can work together to overcome some of these hurdles. Examples of barriers include:

  • Fear among employees: A significant percentage of workers believe that AI is a job killer, and that it will require a deeper understanding of data science. These fears can be allayed because, as newer tools come out, AI is becoming a tool that's easier to use. 
  • Cultural resistance: Building on the issue of fear, there is also a cultural resistance to new groundbreaking technologies that also needs to be overcome. According to Kranz, “These technologies are often implemented in core business environments and critical infrastructures where people are extra careful about making radical large-scale changes that disrupt traditional approaches.” It is also important that people understand that AI is here, and that movement on adoption should be a priority, but only once an organization's needs and values have been identified and assessed.
  • Security: From an IT perspective, one of the biggest concerns regarding implementing AI typically has to do with security. The good news is that the security industry is finally addressing the special requirements of IoT, inclusive of AI, according to Kranz. “Just as they responded to Wi-Fi 15 years ago, they are now focusing on security standards, interoperability, and certifications, from the device level through the network and to the cloud,” she explained. “Customers, technology and solutions providers are also working more collaboratively to create new value propositions, such as mass customization and personalization.”

Many of these challenges are being addressed today, which opens the door for new use case and business models in the future.

Where AI Is Headed

How will artificial intelligence change business models in the industry down the road? It will likely will alter logistics, customer-relationship management, support, workflow automation and finance, as personal assistants begin to help in many aspects of the business.

Kranz adds that companies can build momentum and begin to tackle more transformative solutions. The combination of the IoT and AI will change the industrial landscape in the long term, leading to new business opportunities and revenue streams, cutting-edge business models and new business structures. 

Even more, artificial intelligence can help in recreating realistic situations for training, reducing injuries and costly mistakes and making operations more efficient. This can enable manufacturers to better use existing labor resources, helping with the skilled labor shortage in the industry, according to Kranz.

In the future, cobots and robots can work alongside workers, helping to speed manufacturing processes, make better decisions and reduce costs and injuries.

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