Published: November 27th, 2017

Artificial Intelligence (AI) may still be considered a future trend, but if you believe any of the research group’s forecasts from Gartner or Forrester AI will be in almost every piece of software and service by the year 2020.

This was one of the main data points showcased by Dr. Cindy Gordon at the Defining and Demystifying AI Within the Channel webinar hosted by the Canadian Channel Chiefs Council (C4).

And, Gordon, the founder and president of SalesChoice Inc., an AI and data sciences consulting company, said the year 2020 is not that far away.

Dr. Cindy Gordon

“AI is still in its infancy stage,” she added.

Gordon, who has penned 14 books about making sales a science, believes the opportunity is ripe for AI as less than 10 per cent of business has deployed AI in a full-scale way, which she believes includes a senior executive who is part of the leadership team being responsible for AI.

One of the key indicators for Gordon is the 10-fold increase of the investment being made on AI. She told the channel audience at the C4 Webinar that the market for AI is moving and tens of billions of dollars have gone into acquisitions led by Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM, Salesforce.com and others.

“This is the next gold rush.”

But Gordon went deeper with data points from an Infosys research study on AI that found 76 per cent or three-quarters of senior decision-makers believe AI will be a big part of their organizations success strategy.

And, 39 per cent by 2020 are planning to use AI to boost their organization’s revenue.

Gordon is predicting that AI will move people and business into a new kind of transformational change, which might lead to new businesses and ecosystems being invented. Therefore, Gordon believes it’s important for channel professionals to stay connected to the start-up community.

“It’s good to have your ear to the ground,” she said.

For channel professionals Gordon suggested at the C4 Webinar that executive sponsorship is vital for building AI in the future.

Other factors include:

  • Looking at business processes;
  • Focus R&D for smarter outcomes; and
  • Invest in AI projects on the production and promotional side of the business.

“The sales function is being ripped apart by AI and there is a belief that sales professionals can be more productive with AI. Channel leaders should get involved in how to make those ecosystems connect the dots. Sometimes you can see those processes as part of a digital integration service and it can lead to a disconnection,” she said.

Gordon provided the audience with several examples from the retail sector where AI is making inroads. Gordon said that facial recognition with virtual agents who can anticipate orders or provide direction are in play now. “Starbucks may have a robot and it will know me and recognize me as a repeat customer. This leads to a personalized shopping experience,” she said.

There are other examples such as Amazon acquiring Whole Foods and using drone delivery for that.

Gordon went as far to say that AI will eventually eradicate cancer and alzheimers because it will be able to process vast amounts of data.

The time to act on AI is now for the channel community. Gordon said there is a need to education the C-suite on AI and to develop a strategy plan. “Now is the time for an AI strategy. And, without it could be quite catastrophic. This is potentially the fastest sea change in mankind today and faster than electricity.”