How IT Can Support Your AI Initiatives

By Juan Orlandini, Chief Architect
12/21/2020

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI), and what does it mean for business?

Recently, I participated in a LinkedIn Live session titled, “How IT Can Support Your AI Initiatives.” Jason Rader and Kyle Wallace from Insight CDCT joined the session, along with special guest Tony Paikeday, senior director of AI systems at NVIDIA. We discussed the role that AI plays in supporting businesses across a wide range of sectors and industries.

Whether using AI to leverage earlier diagnoses in the medical field or spot fraudulent transactions in banking and financial services, it provides organizations with powerful algorithms to extract even more value from data.

What is AI, and how is it used?

To put it simply, AI is a class of algorithms that can help accelerate event prediction. AI is used to detect patterns in data, but it is also helpful in taking the meaningful patterns in that data to solve problems. Using this technology, we can take decades of raw experience in school or on the job and shrink that down into minutes or hours of algorithm training.

Tony Paikeday of NVIDIA described using AI to “find the proverbial needle in a haystack.” For example, trying to find that one fraudulent transaction among millions, determining if a spot on an MRI image is cancerous or benign, looking for an anomaly buried in oceans of data — that is when AI is helpful. Now, more and more organizations are using AI to find those needles in the haystack, or those anomalies in data, to make better decisions.

You already have data. But are you getting the most out of it?

There is a misconception that AI requires new data. But, in fact, there are treasure troves of information scattered all over agencies, all over data centers. What we must do is coalesce this data together and extract new value out of it. This is where enterprises can benefit from AI.

Using AI can be challenging for an organization in any sector simply because it is new. While it does require an upfront investment of computing, storage, infrastructure, and resources, businesses can still recognize immense value after putting it into motion.

Businesses in the commercial sector have started using the public cloud to see what is possible with AI. They move a small chunk of data to the cloud to play with it and learn from it. But the power of AI algorithms is directly driven by how much data they are given. Using the public cloud for AI has some benefits, like having pretrained models to use instead of building your own. These models can be used, for example, with object detection or people counting. However, there are challenges with the public cloud, such as training models yourself or shuffling data back and forth from the cloud to on-site, which can get extremely expensive.

In the public sector, some agencies restrict migrating their data to the cloud. Instead, they can leverage similar technology on-premises with both hardware and software. And this duality is critical to understand as businesses continue to integrate AI into their transformation: so much of the innovation behind AI happens at the software level; hardware cannot do it alone.

You need IT to spell Artificial Intelligence.

Organizations can embrace AI with the help of IT. Integrating AI is an invaluable situation in which IT can position itself as an enabler of business strategy. IT can lead with a platform and an infrastructure strategy for AI.

Just like other modern applications, AI training and development is done primarily with containers. Whether enterprises implement AI in the cloud or on-premises, IT must effectively manage and operate those containerized workloads. But a digital transformation starts with a modern platform. Modernizing how you do your computing, manage it, and how your developers can consume it helps make the overall experience successful.

Now more than ever, organizations must embrace these kinds of innovations. In this session, Tony mentions some challenging periods in U.S. history — most recently, 2008, and even back to 1987. Well-managed organizations did three things very well:

  1. Drew customers in and solidified loyalty.
  2. Streamlined operations to save costs wherever possible.
  3. Used the economic downturn to create a competitive advantage.‚Äč

The aforementioned areas are where laggards fail to see the opportunity to evolve. It is critical to embrace AI — because, without a doubt, others are.

Lean into AI — and the benefits that come with it.

Now is a crucial time to invest in technologies that position your business to come out ahead. If not, your competitors are most likely going to do it instead.

Additionally, Kyle Wallace mentions that IT and the business strategy must be tightly integrated for AI to be successful. IT alignment with the overall business strategy has always been critical. However, AI is all about solving business problems. Ensuring they are in lockstep helps the products and services they produce as well.

But there is more than just the tech side. Getting IT to engage the rest of the business as an enabler instead of an order taker for infrastructure is crucial. But where should you start?

  1. Get executive buy-in so you can get your AI efforts off the ground. A pragmatic, practical use that has a business case 
  2. Start with a business hypothesis. You likely already have the data set. Pick a problem, solve it, and go from there.
  3. Ensure you can collect the right data. If you do not have the technology to get all the data you need, make it happen.
  4. Recognize that AI is a team sport. It requires bringing many different skills together across departments.

Today, Insight Cloud + Data Center Transformation (CDCT) is optimally positioned within a portfolio of solutions. We enthusiastically look toward the future. What will business and IT be able to accomplish? What will emerge as new possibilities? We will continue to navigate the opportunities, design thoughtful strategies, and deliver optimal outcomes, just as we always have.

Watch the LinkedIn Live session in its entirety here. To learn more about how AI can integrate with existing infrastructure while helping businesses modernize and scale, contact us today.