Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning concepts get a lot of attention and discussion in 2019 (and in 2018 too).
Chances are, if you are a software vendor (ISV), you are talking about it yourself. There are many ways to get into AI and machine learning for both your clients and for you, the ISV. So many choices that making decisions on what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, are very difficult.
Large technology companies and ISVs (think Microsoft, IBM, SAP and similar) have created AI platforms that their clients can use. That works if the client has data scientists on staff who already know what they are doing. It is just more marketing noise to clients who hope their ISV will come up with something that does not require additional work.
The problem with large ISVs is they have customers in many different industries. If they were to create some cool AI functions for manufacturing then their distribution customers would complain. If they created an AI application for banking clients then their healthcare or insurance customers would feel marginalized.
What large ISVs have ended up doing is just creating AI and machine learning sandboxes for their clients to do their own work. That way, the large ISV can tout all the great things possible without having to do any of the work themselves. It is up to the client and the client’s data scientists to create cool AI applications.
Most of your clients are not in a position to effectively work with a generic AI platform even if it does connect easily to the database. Connecting to the database is not the hard part of AI and machine learning. Knowing what to do with the AI platform to effect meaningful changes in business processes and how to deliver the AI insight to real people and processes is the hard part. For you, the ISV, that is how you already differentiate yourself from your competition.
Several of our ISV clients started working with us having no clue where they wanted to go. They were consumed with FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). They kept hearing about large competitors deploying AI without understanding the limitations. AI and machine learning are one of many technology examples of marketing being way, way, way ahead of reality.
Admittedly, there are a lot of technology options for small and medium-size ISVs (SME ISVs) including those same platforms from large technology companies. The reality is most AI and machine learning is done using open source languages and architectures – that is what all of the large technology firms use too!. This levels the playing field of technology for the SME ISV while simultaneously letting them bring industry focus and knowledge.
For SME ISVs, rather than being afraid of the large tech companies and large ISVs marketing noise, use it. Use the same technology but create specific AI and machine learning functions that work into your clients’ business processes. Market the real uses to your clients and show all the marketing noise can be ignored since you are delivering real results in AI and machine learning.