It’s common to think of artificial intelligence as something you either have or don’t. It’s often talked about in the kinds of terms associated with an “arms-race,” where one company or country is going to gain an upper hand over another. In reality, it’s just a tool that can help you be a more effective service provider.

Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM sell AI-as-a-Service. These cloud vendors are providing tools to make that easier for you, as with any API play. As we discussed previously, APIs make it easier to add complex tooling to applications without having to code it yourself.

IBM recently upped the ante on this approach when it made its Watson AI available on any cloud platform. This was a huge step forward for developers, who can use Watson on whatever cloud platform they choose. It was a smart move by IBM to expand its market, as many companies (as you no doubt are aware) have chosen a multi-cloud environment.

Among the tasks you can automate with AI include building bots for customer service or HR help desks, automating image recognition, and classification or translation. These are just a few examples of the range of AI services the cloud vendors are offering. If you are helping your clients build applications, you can add these kinds of advanced functionalities without having any AI expertise.

Software’s getting smarter

You can also take advantage of the AI built into the software your company is buying or supporting. AI and machine learning have become so prevalent in today’s applications it’s fair to say that having some AI is really table stakes for developers these days.

Certainly the big vendors like Adobe and Salesforce have been paying attention. For whatever reason, these companies have chosen to personify or brand their flavors of AI — Adobe Sensei and Salesforce Einstein, respectively. Regardless of the naming convention, it’s really less of a product and more of a foundational technology, underlying these company’s product lines and infusing the products with intelligence where it makes sense.

In Adobe Photoshop, it makes sense to use image recognition to enhance the product. In Salesforce CRM, it helps automate many data entry tasks that sales people previously had to enter manually, making it more likely that the database is populated with up-to-date customer info.

It’s worth noting that data is the fuel of AI, so if you have a database of photos in Photoshop or customer data in your CRM database, you are providing the building blocks for smarter AI. Over time, these tools should get smarter as they receive larger and more diverse data sets. 

As an MSP, you don’t have to be an AI expert. You just have to be smart enough to know when it makes sense to take advantage of it. With today’s tools, it’s becoming easier than ever to do that.

Photo: Willyam Bradberry / Shutterstock

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Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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