Culture / DevOps / Machine Learning / Contributed

Meet the Star Member of the IT Team: The AI Assistant

15 Jan 2021 1:07pm, by

Bob Friday
Bob Friday is co-founder, vice president, and chief technology officer at Mist, which is part of Juniper Networks and develops self-learning wireless networks using artificial intelligence. He started his career in wireless at Metricom (Ricochet wireless network) developing and deploying wireless mesh networks across the country to connect the first generation of internet browsers. Following Metricom, Bob co-founded Airespace, a start-up focused on helping enterprises manage the flood of employees bringing unlicensed WiFi technology into their businesses.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming ubiquitous in everyday life, touching how we live, work and entertain. Consumer AI assistants like Alexa and Siri have brought the technology into the home and made AI assistants a household name. But the potential for AI assistants goes beyond asking a smart speaker to play a song or check the weather, and the technologies introduction into the business world is opening new doors.

The events of the past year have accelerated digital transformation and innovation, unlike anything we have seen before. With enterprises moving toward a hybrid work model, IT teams have been scrambling to help employees adapt to a new way of working. However, technology gaps in networking, connectivity and overall bandwidth have made the transition less than smooth for many companies. It’s within these gaps that AI assistants have revealed themselves as more than capable to fill. As we move into 2021, I expect to see AI assistants grow into their role by continuing to get smarter, ultimately becoming an integral part of the overall IT team.

Investing in the Education of AI Assistants

Over the years, enterprises have built support infrastructure to train AI assistants by using large data sets to generate insights. However, many patterns changed dramatically in 2020, causing these advanced AI models to behave erratically. Given that many of these models make predictions based on historical data, they struggled to adjust for the anomalies brought on by this year’s disruptive business conditions. However, as we’ve adapted to this new work of working, business continuity has stabilized, and with it, the efficacy of AI assistants. However, they cannot perform their best on their own. To enable peak performance, IT teams must invest the time and energy to train AI assistants, similar to the way that a company veteran must train a new employee.

As an integral part of this process, enterprises must have experienced technology teams in place that are focused on analyzing the performance of and results provided by AI assistants. By providing constant feedback, these AI tools will adjust their logic, effectively teaching themselves to solve problems quickly and more accurately. This will make them more efficient over time, and in turn, AI assistants will learn to deliver actionable insights and will gain the trust of IT professionals as a valued team member.

Help Is on the Way for IT Teams

IT teams often view AI as a method to alleviate some of their current challenges, with many noting that the current conditions have forced them to focus on simply “keeping the lights on” as opposed to driving innovation. The truth of the matter is that while we have more data than ever today, this doesn’t correspond to actionable knowledge that can be applied to increase business efficiency. More often than not, IT professionals spend a majority of their time focusing on mundane tasks and keeping things running smoothly at the fundamental level.

Where the value of AI assistants come in is in their ability to solve increasingly complex user issues. Teaching these AI tools is a short-term investment that will pay off in the long run. As IT professionals train AI assistants to be better at their jobs, this will only benefit their teams over time by decreasing the strain and workloads, mitigating mundane tasks and giving network engineers the bandwidth on to focus on developing next-generation technologies for remote workers.

AI Assistants in 2021 and Beyond

With AI capabilities rapidly evolving beyond what many believed possible, 2021 promises to be the year AI assistants take center stage, with the delivery of actionable insights and problem-solving at the core of their application for IT teams. As more use cases for AI assistants emerge, the modern workplace will shift to see human technology teams work more collaboratively with AI, maybe even without knowing it.

Feature image via Pixabay.

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners. TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in the following companies: MADE.

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