The real AI marketplace

14th December 2017

We mentioned in our last blog the difficulty in embedding AI and innovation.  How is this manifesting itself in the market? Here are some of our thoughts.

There is significant effort invested right now in figuring out where this AI journey is going to take us. That’s a big question, realising how generations to come will be impacted. One of our favourite quotes here at II is ‘predictions are hard, especially when they’re in the future’. So we can safely say that most forecasts will miss. 

For clarity, when we think about AI we divide it into two segments. The first dates back to the 80s, which we can refer to as expert systems. It’s good stuff, but it’s the latest applications that are most exciting and impactful. In this context AI is code for ‘machine learning’. That’s the special sauce we’re fixated upon. 

Not unusually for tech, the hype is in any case way ahead of the reality. 

The AI market still needs to be primed. Dr Mike Lynch, whom runs Invoke Capital, reviews a large number of AI technologies. Under the marketing veneer he states that 90% contain no machine learning capability. Of the remaining 10%, 5% have not been market tested. This is not surprising. The Cloud shift demonstrated the same approach. Some providers, both longstanding and brand new, struggled to deliver against their messaging. And 20-years elapsed from the first conversations on utility computing to Cloud being mainstream.

We think AI is a more significant situation. It’s more sophisticated than Cloud for a start. The New York Times states that there are fewer than 10,000 people capable of AI research. That’s not many, and as things heat up it feels progressively less. Scarcity may be further exacerbated as tech organisations persuade academic AI researchers to leave their universities.

We still believe in watching out for the ‘next littlest thing’. Startups are able to directly address their targeted use case. Despite a scarcity of skills, and the cost of those that are available, that puts them at an advantage. 

Hopefully the queue of folks at Google’s Advanced Solutions Lab won’t be too long. We’ll look forward to seeing you there.