Market hype and growing interest in artificial intelligence (AI) are pushing established software vendors to introduce AI into their product strategy, creating considerable confusion in the process, according to Gartner. Analysts predict that by 2020, AI technologies will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product and service.
In January 2016, the term “artificial intelligence” was not in the top 100 search terms on gartner.com. By May 2017, the term ranked at No. 7, indicating the popularity of the topic and interest from Gartner clients in understanding how AI can and should be used as part of their digital business strategy. Gartner predicts that by 2020, AI will be a top five investment priority for more than 30% of CIOs.
“AI offers exciting possibilities, but unfortunately, most vendors are focused on the goal of simply building and marketing an AI-based product rather than first identifying needs, potential uses and the business value to customers” said Jim Hare, Research VP at Gartner.
The huge increase in startups and established vendors all claiming to offer AI products without any real differentiation is confusing buyers. More than 1,000 vendors with applications and platforms describe themselves as AI vendors, or say they employ AI in their products. Similar to greenwashing, in which companies exaggerate the environmental-friendliness of their products or practices for business benefit, many technology vendors are now “AI washing” by applying the AI label a little too indiscriminately, according to Gartner. This widespread use of “AI washing” is already having real consequences for investment in the technology. To build trust with end-user organizations vendors should focus on building a collection of case studies with quantifiable results achieved using AI. “Use the term ‘AI’ wisely in your sales and marketing materials,” Mr. Hare said. “Be clear what differentiates your AI offering and what problem it solves.”