The Promise of Artificial Intelligence for the Enterprise

Consumers — even if they don’t know it — use artificial intelligence (AI) in many ways, through applications like Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant or Google Photos, which uses machine learning to group together a user’s pictures. Although AI hasn’t yet taken off in the enterprise market, it soon may.

AI could be used to enhance customer service, provide companies with recommendations based on data analytics, root out fraud or help manufacturers find defects in products before they’re shipped.

The market for AI in the business world is going to heat up, according to research firm IDC, which predicts that the market for cognitively enabled applications and software is going to be worth $40 billion in 2020.

One kind of AI that has gotten a lot of attention lately is machine learning, an artificial intelligence that can learn from and make predictions based on data it accesses. Google is building the technology into the company’s cloud product in hopes of winning enterprise business.

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Yet for all of the discussions about how AI is changing the world, it hasn’t transformed the business market quite yet. Stephen Pratt, a former Infosys executive who left his job after eight months of running the Watson AI project for IBM Services, wants to change the equation.

Earlier this month, Pratt, with backing from investment firm TPG Growth, launched Noodle Analytics, or, which has dubbed itself “the enterprise artificial intelligence company.”

Consumers are getting a taste of AI via smartphone apps and predictive product engines from Amazon, but companies have only scratched the service. “But when it comes to optimizing a company’s sales force or supply chain, that’s just in its infancy,” Pratt, Noodle’s CEO, told IDG News Service.

Pratt expects AI to become a normal part of how businesses get their work done. “I think AI will be the biggest competitive differentiator in the next three to five years,” he says. “Executives who aren’t using some form of AI to help them are very quickly going to seem outdated and out of touch.”

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AI is built on several foundational technologies, including natural language processing, speech recognition and structured data analytics, according to IDC analyst David Schubmehl, who specializes in AI.;

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