In this article, Sascha Giese examines how Hybrid IT and cloud computing will be AI’s biggest asset as the government embraces digital transformation
The term artificial intelligence (AI) is familiar to most of us. Looking beyond the realms of science fiction, however, AI has the potential to have a positive impact in a government context, because the take-up of AI will more than likely be the result of the adoption of hybrid and cloud computing.
AI is highly effective but historically has had a long adoption timeframe, similar to other excellent technologies waiting for the perfect use case within day-to-day IT environments. But many believe that’s about to change. Public sector investment in AI is expected to rise rapidly in the coming years. According to the SolarWinds U.K. Public Sector IT Trends Report 2018, over half of the surveyed public sector IT pros predict that AI will be among the biggest technology priorities in three to five years.
Here in the U.K., emerging technologies are already being used to improve services. In a recent article, Oliver Dowden, minister for implementation in the Cabinet Office, shared the example of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which has used Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology.
According to Dowden, in the example of employer registration end-to-end processing, up to 85% of applications are automatically processed, thanks to the deployment of 12,500 robots and the automation of 56 processes across multiple lines of business. The technology validates data from online applications and provides a unique reference number to new employers to enable them to begin employing staff.
Signs point to hybrid IT and cloud adoption as primary factors in the rise of AI adoption. In fact, the two can have a synergistic relationship, as AI will enhance the capabilities provided through a hybrid IT or cloud environment.
One of the great advantages of the cloud is its ability to serve as a platform for public sector IT pros to acquire and use technologies as a service, versus buying them outright. Applications, storage, infrastructure—all of these are now available as a service.
AI is no different. Each major cloud provider offers its own machine learning services (MLaaS) platform, which allows third-party AI application developers to build their smart applications on each of these cloud platforms. With the availability of AI platforms, comes the opportunity to “let someone else” handle the intricacies of creating AI applications, which may lead to a wide variety of new AI-based applications.
Two further advantages of cloud that present an environment ripe for AI are worth mentioning:
1. Abundant computing and storage capacity to access vast amounts of data
Abundant capacity means applications have the room to use as much computing power as necessary to accomplish highly complex computing algorithms, and storage to access vast amounts of data so applications have the information necessary to use those complex algorithms to deliver far more “intelligent” information.
The network making its transition to “Software Defined Everything” can allow AI to use additional resources when necessary and return that capacity when it’s finished with complex issues. Templates, policies, and dynamic scaling are designed to make this more than possible. It even becomes simple.
2. AI’s role in managing this highly intelligent environment
Take the Internet of Things (IoT), for example.
AI has the potential to allow for a dramatically enhanced ability to manage elements that, to date, have been difficult to manage or even track. Taking that scenario even further, the intelligence and data analytics behind AI may also provide the ability to implement far more broad-reaching automation.
With the automation of hybrid IT and cloud, comes greater efficiency and more opportunity for innovation. I’d call that a win-win.