Enterprise software originated in the 1960s as a means of managing inventory. Back then, it was a point of difference between large companies and their competitors. Now, enterprise software has become an essential part of the inner workings of every business. From the humblest start-up to multinational corporations.
By Ciaran Brennan, Editorial Assistant and Reporter at Business & Finance.
Evolution of enterprise software
It evolved to become Material Requirement Planning (MRP) to consolidate the production process by calculating the components to manufacture a product in the ‘70s.
In the ‘80s, MRP became Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRPII) to efficiently plan the use of a company’s resources.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) was introduced in the ‘90s. This was a type of software that consolidated an organisation’s day-to-day business activities, from accounting to supply chain operations.
This morphed into Web Functionalities with Internet (ERPII) in the ‘00s. It was at this juncture that technology was no longer at the back end of businesses. It became integrated with how they dealt with customers as procedures became more sophisticated and data-driven.
We are now in the era of Cloud-based ERP. This means all of the functionalities mentioned above are available over the internet. It is the spine of organisations and enables all of the core processes.
The question now — as ever with technology — is “what next?” Cloud-based ERP has become so ingrained in how businesses operate, most employees may even be unaware that it enables their entire workday.
The latest step for enterprise solutions is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a “human-augmented” approach. AI systems use technologies including text-mining, computer vision, speech recognition, natural language generation and machine learning.
This is something that is already taking shape with the most common example being intelligent virtual assistants contact centres. These are the Chatbots that greet you on a number of company websites.
Chatbots are the frontline in many companies’ customer service departments. They will answer your basic questions, provide humanoid responses and direct you to their sales department.
Most customer queries can usually be answered by browsing the company website, but people prefer to hear it from another human. Perhaps it’s laziness, perhaps the assurance of receiving the answer from someone is more favourable than reading text produced by a robot.
A lot of a customer service department’s time can be taken up with questions for which there are already-formulated responses. A Chatbot will happily answer this question with aching precision to free up customer service agents to answer more technical queries.
The phenomenon known as Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (ChatGPT) recently highlighted how sophisticated AI has become. It can solve riddles, debug coding and write poetry. Below is an example of a poem written about Dublin Tech Summit, by ChatGPT.
This poem won’t be receiving a Pulitzer prize, but it is a poem nonetheless.
Many forecasts have declared that the “human-augmented” approach, which means humans working alongside AI, is on the increase and will become the default practice in our everyday working life.
The numbers behind the trend
- 8% of enterprises in the EU used AI technologies in 2021.
- 28% of large enterprises used AI technologies in the same year.
- Information and communication was the sector that used AI technologies the most.
- 53% of enterprises that used AI purchased ready-to-use commercial AI-enabled software solutions.
AI-enabled software is broad, so it’s important to understand what it’s being used for:
24% of these enterprises used AI software or systems for ICT security. 23% used it to streamline their administration processes. 9% of Enterprises used it for HR management or recruiting.
Statista reported in 2020 that by 2025 the global AI software market will be worth up to $126bn. The market was evaluated at $138.4bn in 2022 and is forecasted to continue to grow rapidly.
AI is not on the horizon. It is the here and now.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) projects that 60% of the G200 will expand AI and machine learning across all of their critical business practices by 2024. This includes marketing, legal, HR, procurement and supply chain logistics.
Implementing AI-enabled enterprise software
AI-enabled enterprise software aims to provide all of the same end-to-end solutions present in cloud-based ERP, but it does so by using a cloud-native approach. Essentially, AI will learn from pre-existing data in order to carry out essential business processes.
This will help companies improve their operational efficiency and decision-making as they do so with the recommendations presented by AI.
Using AI will streamline the interpretation phase from the data-science pipeline. Instead of individuals simply reviewing analytics and making decisions based on this, AI-enabled software will assist in this process.
One such way is the deployment of predictive AI models. These AI builders analyse previous data and patterns and associate these with outcomes. Machine learning is used and AI can predict future outcomes based on previous data.
An AI-enabled success story
People are understandably dubious when it comes to new advancements in technology. Handing over control to AI is no different. There is however an example of how AI-enabled enterprise software can work.
The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) began conducting research using AI software provided by American-based technology company NVIDIA, in partnership with VMware.
They wanted to see if trained AI models could enable more accurate tumour targeting along with reduced radiation exposure using cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). The results point to potentially more effective cancer treatments.
The goal of NKI researchers was to find a method of adapting radiotherapy treatment to the current anatomy to achieve more accurate tumour targeting. Patients’ anatomy can change daily as they may lose weight and their bodily composition changes due to the treatment. Even having a large meal can change it.
NKI used Nvidia enterprise software and NVIDIA A100 GPUs in a VMware vSphere environment to conduct their research. Using this technology, NKI found that CBCT scans could be rendered as quick as up to 60 seconds at 2mm resolution and up to five minutes at 1mm resolution.
This was a significant breakthrough as the reconstruction of CBCT scans takes enormous amounts of memory and the image quality of these reconstruction is poor according to NVIDIA’s case study.
CBCT scans are incredibly delicate and even patient movements may affect the results. By using AI, the process was sped up, the amount of memory needed was reduced and images were made more accurate despite taking less time to render.
With more accurate CBCT scans and more detailed images, the more effectively clinicians can localise smaller tumours and provide more effective treatment.
With NVIDIA’s AI enabled enterprise software, it was possible for NKI to make this breakthrough and give patients agent care they needed with more accuracy.
The emerging trends
The public are beginning to see the benefits of AI through various entertaining AI platforms, but companies have been investing in it for a number of years now.
Google, Facebook and OpenAI — the firm responsible for ChatGPT — invested in large language models before the turn of the decade using large language models in their work.
The areas of a business it is most likely to impact are forecasted by the IDC to be Code Generation, Enterprise Content Management, Marketing and Customer Experience Applications and Product Design and Engineering.
In each case, AI is purported to be a means of enhancing human performance rather than replacing it entirely. Hence the phrase “human-augmented”.
Since its beginning in the middle of the last century, enterprising planning has been about efficiency. This latest development is yet another step in the evolution of enterprise management systems.
To learn more about digital and business transformation, take a look at Dublin Tech Summit, which promises to host discussions and keynotes on this topic and more.
About the author: Ciaran Brennan is Editorial Assistant and Reporter at Business & Finance.
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