Hype risks derailing AI gold rush, warns Gartner

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Hype and tenuous definitions are threatening to derail the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), a new report has warned.

Gartner said virtually every new software product and service will carry the technology by 2020 and said it would be a top five investment priority for a fifth of CIOs.

Jim Hare, Research Vice President at Gartner, said: "Many software providers are looking to stake their claim in the biggest gold rush in recent years.

"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."

However, Hare warned a lack of differentiation is confusing consumers and delaying their decisions to buy products.

More than 1,000 vendors describe themselves as either dedicated AI companies or ones that use the technology in their products.

Gartner said many companies are being too loose with their use of AI, comparing it to companies trying to make themselves more environmentally friendly than they are through so-called "greenwashing".

Hare said: "Use the term 'AI' wisely in your sales and marketing materials. Be clear what differentiates your AI offering and what problem it solves."

He added that many simpler approaches can also provide cost-effective and less complex alternatives to AI.

Hare said organisations also lacked the necessary skills to properly adopt the technology even though they were looking to AI to improve its decision making and automate processes.

He added: "Software vendors need to focus on offering solutions to business problems rather than just cutting-edge technology. Highlight how your AI solution helps address the skills shortage and how it can deliver value faster than trying to build a custom AI solution in-house."

This week Vodafone UK announced it was extending the functionality of its AI-based customer service agent TOBi.