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Is your business ready to go cognitive-first?

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/ESB Professional)

We no longer have to imagine the idea of talking robots and artificial intelligence via sci-fi literature and future-gazing motion pictures. With the power of cognitive-first applications and machine learning, organisations around the world are leveraging cognitive computing across industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, marketing and defence to name just a few. By analysing masses of data collected through connected devices, sensors and user journeys, cognitive computing can support smarter solutions by processing the data efficiently.   

Since the rapid transition into the digital age, there has been an explosion of valuable data that humans cannot deal with on their own. With the right tools in place, leveraging the right data can augment your competitive position relative to others in the same industry and improve customer satisfaction exponentially. For example, in the manufacturing industry, utilising data collected can reduce maintenance costs, give businesses foresight to prevent unplanned downtime and increase uptime.   

The power of cognitive computing is clear; by mimicking how the human brain works via various well-established technologies such as data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing, businesses can utilise complex AI based solutions to assist a new connected world in order to support initiatives such as predictive maintenance and patient diagnoses in hospitals. 

For app developers, their main obstacle is leveraging today's latest technologies, interface types and data sources in order to deliver applications with little disruption for the end-user.     

A recent report from Gartner stated that by 2018, 90% of the world’s 200 largest companies will leverage intelligent apps and use the full toolkit of Big Data and analytical tools to improve their customer experience. With this in mind, it is clear businesses need to build cognitive applications in order to stay ahead of the curve.

In order to develop and leverage cognitive technology, there are 2 fundamental steps needed to achieve this: 

Evolve Existing IT Infrastructures 

To really harness the power of cognitive computing, businesses must take steps to support this complex initiative. New emerging technologies are changing the way businesses operate and this must be reflected in their IT infrastructure. Organisations utilising cognitive computing are now taking a cloud-native approach by adopting a hybrid strategy to its structure. By using existing on-premise operational systems that are amplified with new data sources being stored and analysed in the cloud, businesses can store masses of data cost effectively without having to overhaul their current systems to the cloud. IDG predicts that by 2020 data centres will represent only 50% of the market with public cloud forming just under a third of the market and private cloud (20%). The results illustrate the demand for a more hybrid infrastructure in order to stay ahead of competitors. 

Embrace the Potential of Cognitive-First Strategic Business Apps 

With the customer-centric business model proving to be a success, its pivotal that business applications engage with the user on any device, offering an optimised interface based on their digital preferences which can change during the course of the user journey. This is beyond a ‘mobile-first’ or a ‘multi-channel’ approach.   

It is clear organisations have to change the way they function. To exploit the ever-changing landscape, businesses need to be flexible, agile, secure and reliable, and their strategic business applications have to reflect this.   

There are many applications that benefit from utilising cognitive technology, resulting in a much improved customer experience for the end-user. Here are a few applications that can benefit going cognitive-first. 

Adapted Applications: With the emergence of new forms of interactions that do not require a graphical user interface (GUI) such as voice recognition, chatbots and augmented reality (AR). These applications need to be completely adaptive for optimal user experience. This is whether it is acting on behalf of the user or engaging the user on the device of their choice. For example, with cognitive computing, AR can provide seamless visual guidance by overlaying digital information on real objects viewed through mobile devices, tablets, or smart glasses.    

Intelligent Applications: With masses of data being collected every day, it has led to a point where humans alone cannot manage without the assistance of a machine. To utilise this data, applications must be intelligent. The strategic business application of the future must leverage machine learning in order to exploit the data to predict what will happen in the future. This is only achievable by automation. By automating the data science cycle, highly accurate analytical models can be developed, deployed and constantly improved without the presence of a data scientist. This results in transforming data into actionable insights and taking preventive measures to drive better outcomes.    

Connected Applications: With many businesses initiating their digital transformations journey, IoT can enable enterprises to be at the forefront of IT modernisation if used leveraging the power of cognitive technology. It is critical businesses integrate different types of data from a range of sources including data found on multiple clouds, on-premise or in various data centres, data lakes and IoT devices to name a few. This will result in overcoming obstacles that can impact the user’s ability to use data, analytics and gain useful experiences.   

Internet-scale Applications: It is a very well-known requirement for businesses to scale for transaction and data volume, however there are now new developments that can help accomplish this, including cloud computing and a flexible IT infrastructure. By combining the advantages of managing infrastructure with code (supporting different types of application and UX workloads) and developing agility and deployment flexibility of microservices, the results can go beyond expectations of concepts such as ‘infrastructure as code’ and ‘infrastructure as microservices’. 

The Future is Cognitive-First 

This is only the beginning of a new era. While strategic business applications have always been known to be secure, compliant and reliable, these applications now require new capabilities such as flexibility and agility to execute cognitive learning without losing its former qualities.   With developments being discovered every day, businesses need to modify their mission-critical data to become cognitive first, giving them the tools to stand out from the crowd.  

Mark Troester, VP of Strategy at Progress 

Image Credit: ESB Professional / Shutterstock

Mark Troester
Mark is the VP of Strategy, Progress. He guides the strategic go-to-market efforts for the cognitive-first strategy. Mark has experience in bringing application development and big data products to market.