A lot of today's business growth and innovation is driven by data, and artificial intelligence is opening up whole new worlds by extracting more insight and efficiency from digital information.
While the adoption of artificial intelligence was increasing before COVID-19, the pandemic accelerated this adoption, and now, businesses are reaping the benefits of these investments. For smaller and mid-sized companies, Managed IT Services allow access to greater efficiency and more power through artificial intelligence, from better cybersecurity to proactive maintenance.
The use of artificial intelligence in business will only become more popular as data storage costs decrease and processing power increases, according to a report in the MIT Technology Review. These developments will help small and mid-sized businesses access the latest machine-learning technologies, while larger companies have the resources to develop artificial intelligence technologies in-house.
For all the power and promise of AI technology, there are challenges and risks that need to be considered as well. Companies looking to make the most of artificial intelligence should understand that the technology isn't a magic bullet, nor is it capable of completely replacing humans when it comes to many tasks. That being said, the nature of the technology means that it will only improve over time.
The Rise of AI
Artificial intelligence has made a lot of headlines lately thanks to a technology called generative AI. This technology essentially learns by processing countless documents and works of art to generate what appears to be original content. For example, ChatGPT can create an entire article on the rise of artificial intelligence in Managed IT Services based on information the program has previously learned.
Generative AI platforms have been used to create everything from college papers to images to songs. That said, AI-generated content often falls into the "uncanny valley," meaning it has an unnatural quality that people don't like unless it's framed as a novelty.
Understandably, the power of this impressive technology has gotten a lot of attention. Some of the biggest players in technology, including Google and Microsoft, have unveiled their own generative AI platforms. This technology will only get more sophisticated as companies invest in it. Generative AI will also likely find more use cases.
But the recent rapid adoption of AI wasn't triggered by platforms like ChatGPT. The pandemic forced companies to embrace digital technology in ways they hadn't before, and greater artificial intelligence capabilities were part of that embrace. In one survey by PwC, 52 percent of companies said they increased their adoption of AI technology because of the pandemic. A whopping 86 percent said AI had become a "mainstream technology" in their company during 2021.
How AI Benefits Managed IT Services
From cybersecurity to predictive maintenance to smarter task automation — artificial intelligence can provide a number of benefits for Managed IT Services.
Probably the most substantial benefit AI offers Managed IT Services is its ability to strengthen cybersecurity, a crucial focus for providers and their clients. Cyberattacks increased during COVID, and the potentially devastating consequences of them are well-known: loss of sensitive data, paying of ransom and reputational damage.
When it comes to cybersecurity, artificial intelligence can rapidly identify suspicious events and potential breaches. In fact, this is one area where artificial intelligence is far superior to human monitoring. AI can assess enormous amounts of data from a variety of sources to detect dubious patterns and actions.
AI can learn from previous cyberattacks and improve based on what it learns. In addition to offering better protection, artificial intelligence can also lower the workload of cybersecurity professionals, who can focus on other activities that require a human touch. This significantly boosts the overall cybersecurity posture of an organization.
That said, it is essential to understand that artificial intelligence isn't a cure-all for cybersecurity. Cybercriminals are highly aware of how artificial intelligence enhances cybersecurity. They understand how the technology is vulnerable to phishing and social engineering tactics. Hackers also know effective techniques for evading AI-enhanced cybersecurity. Because of this, companies must remain vigilant and on top of emerging threats.
Many companies rely on their network and IT capabilities for their production processes. Predictive maintenance is a business strategy that uses analytics to anticipate when equipment might break down. This allows companies to take preventative measures prior to a breakdown taking place. Basically, preventative maintenance saves time and money by minimizing downtime.
Artificial intelligence can take predictive maintenance routines to the next level by pinpointing potential issues earlier than human observers, significantly lowering downtime, and ensuring that systems are always running at optimal efficiency.
To enable an even more proactive approach to predictive maintenance, artificial intelligence can evaluate information from many sources, including maintenance logs, historical data and live mechanical sensors. Artificial intelligence can also study past maintenance activities and learn how to improve predictions.
Better Change Management
Periodic changes and updates to an IT system are necessary for any organization to remain relevant. Unfortunately, people tend to prefer the status quo, and this puts a lot of pressure on any proposed or ongoing changes. Managed IT services providers can use AI technology to assess the potential impacts of proposed changes or analyze sentiment around ongoing changes. This more effective approach to change management can help people in an organization embrace new things and move forward with confidence.
Smarter Task Automation
Managed IT Services typically handle tasks like monitoring client infrastructure and maintaining backups. Automating some routine tasks is nothing new. However, artificial intelligence allows for automation that goes beyond the "if this, then do that" basic functionality. For instance, AI could allow for the detection of potential issues like low disk space and take proactive measures based on historical data. This expanded capability allows managed services providers to spend more time on strategic and collaborative work.
While artificial intelligence offers substantial benefits to Managed IT Services, it's important to avoid an over-reliance on the technology. Inadequate human oversight may lead to a decreased ability to recognize and handle complicated issues or new threats. Companies that use Managed IT Services should work with their provider to make sure there's the right balance between artificial intelligence and human intelligence.
AI Technologies Will Continue to Improve
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about artificial intelligence is that the technology is designed to improve with every use. On top of that, there are massive investments happening right now that will also accelerate the progress of AI technology.
More than half of companies included in a recent report from McKinsey are investing at least 5 percent of their budgets in artificial intelligence. In the first half of 2023, venture capital investments in generative AI were higher by nearly 58 percent compared to the first six months of 2022.
Large tech corporations and venture capital funds can afford to invest in artificial intelligence technology. But for smaller and mid-sized companies, it may not be worth investing in early-stage technology, which carries an inherent risk. AI systems typically need to be built and maintained, and this requires significant short-term investments. On top of that, it's difficult to bring in people with artificial intelligence skills.
Even if a company manages to get an AI model built, the cost of training it is another major investment, which involves gathering data, teaching the model, reviewing the results and making adjustments. Even after all that, an AI model must be monitored and maintained to ensure it stays consistent and reliable.
With that being said, one of the biggest barriers to artificial intelligence technology right now isn't investment. It's our ability to trust it. A worldwide survey from KPMG found trust in artificial intelligence varies widely depending on the application. While we largely trust the technology for data processing, we are less likely to trust artificial intelligence when it comes to safety, security and fairness.
Companies behind the technology recognize this trust gap and are working to address it through a practice called Responsible AI. This approach involves creating and deploying artificial intelligence with the intention of empowering people while having a fair impact on society. The main goal of Responsible AI is to build trust so the technology can be scaled with confidence.
Supporters of Responsible AI advocated for a governance framework and best practices that help to ensure organizations using artificial intelligence technology are transparent and human-centered. To date, however, such a framework and practices are at the discretion of those who develop and deploy AI models at individual organizations.
This means that corporate measures for transparency and ethical use vary from organization to organization. Companies looking to support Responsible AI in their Managed IT Services should talk with their provider about a proper framework and best practices.
What the Future of Managed IT AI Looks Like
As artificial intelligence continues to develop and grow more advanced, it's only going to have a bigger effect on Managed IT Services. Although there are worries that AI will replace human technologists, the long-term impact will likely involve AI supplementing human capabilities, allowing service providers to offer more value to their clients.
As for expanding current capabilities, AI-powered analytics will allow a provider to better understand the IT environment of their client and flag areas for improvement. Cybersecurity solutions will continue to evolve and provide even better threat detection.
In general, the future of AI-enriched Managed IT Services will be fascinating and yet challenging. Service providers who best leverage the technology in a way that's forward-thinking and responsible will likely thrive for years to come. Providers that approach artificial intelligence with a short-term, quick-fix mentality may find themselves left behind.
Learn How AI in Managed IT Services Can Make Your Company More Productive
At Taylored Systems, we're always keeping on top of the latest technology developments to better serve our Managed IT Services customers. If your company wants to get the most out of AI in Managed IT Services, there are a few simple steps to take before getting started.
First, review your IT infrastructure and management processes to pinpoint areas that might benefit from AI. Consult with your service provider or a potential service provider about their use of AI and figure out how they align with your needs and business goals. Finally, have conversations with your in-house IT management teams to see if any extra training or tools are necessary.
When you partner with Taylored Systems, we not only help you with this internal review process, but we also follow up to ensure that the services we provide speak to your business goals. We incorporate artificial intelligence into a number of our Managed IT Services. These services include:
- Cybersecurity. Our custom security systems make use of the most recent cybersecurity technology.
- Backup and Disaster Recovery. We offer both on-site and off-site backup infrastructures to protect your most valuable information.
- Business IT Services. Whether IT is central to your business model or it's simply there to provide support for your core business activities, our business IT services can improve your technical capabilities, boosting productivity, customer service, and more.
- Managed Cloud Services. Our unique approach to Managed Cloud Services offers the convenience of a public cloud and the security of a private cloud. With our services, you receive regular updates and the ability to monitor the performance of your cloud in real time.
- Helpdesk Support. As much as we love technology, it often presents us with unexpected problems. Our help desk support team has a deep knowledge of many industry-standard hardware and software technologies, which allows them to quickly resolve issues that pop up.
- Consulting Services. Our consulting services are designed to assess your current capabilities and help you innovate for the future.
- Network Design, Installation and Maintenance. Our team has extensive experience redesigning networks and building them from the ground up.
- 24/7 Network Monitoring and Support. If your company doesn't have around-the-clock business hours, 24/7 monitoring and support services can maintain and protect your network during downtimes.
- Wireless Access. Every company needs strong wireless access, and our experts can configure your wireless network to meet your specific requirements.
There are many types of businesses that can benefit from Managed IT Services, and our use of artificial intelligence only amplifies that benefit. Our Managed IT Services for improved productivity can be specifically tailored to your business, so please contact us today to discuss how we can meet your IT needs.