The Only Way to Succeed with AI is a Full Stack Approach
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The world is being inundated with news about artificial intelligence (AI) and its implications for how we work, live and play. Thanks to the stunning debut and popularity of ChatGPT and GPT-4, every day uncovers new ways AI will transform virtually every type of business.
This massive wave of momentum has made it impossible for organizations to stand idle, and nor should they. Recent advancements in AI are forcing all leaders to think very differently about their business/organization.
Every company with growth aspirations needs to be thinking about how they are digitizing their business to drive scale, create new revenue opportunities, and deliver innovative experiences that benefit both customers and employees. They also need to be thinking about their competition — the ones they are aware of and new ones about to disrupt their industry.
AI is acutely part of this disruptive process, acting as a critical accelerant of digital transformation.
AI is the most impactful technology in our lifetime, with NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang recently saying the "accumulation of technology breakthroughs has brought AI to an inflection point, setting up for broad adoption reaching into every industry."
Investing in and building AI and analytics solutions that make better use of data remains a strategic priority we advise all our clients to focus on. WWT is incredibly proud of our industry-leading partnership with NVIDIA, collaborating with the AI-powering juggernaut on AI and machine learning (ML) — along with a host of other important technologies, such as digital twins, Omniverse, visualization and networking solutions — to help organizations develop purpose-built AI systems and software that help digitally transform their business.
I recently had the pleasure of hosting Huang to talk about what he's seeing in the market, and I was struck by how simply he explained it all.
"Large language models (LLM) and generative AI is just a new computer," he said. "Think of it as a new computer, just like an iPhone or PC or the internet. A new computer needs someone who knows how to use it. It's programmed differently and we'll use it for different things. We'll have to harness that capability."
Huang said in the not-too-distant future, everyone will be a programmer. But instead of traditional coding like Java or Python (languages in which we command a computer), we'll be coaxing AI to perform specific tasks or develop unique applications with nothing beyond basic human language.
It's a mind-blowing and profound piece of context from one of the world's most influential leaders who I believe will go down as one of the great innovators in human history.
"If you ask ChatGPT to predict the last word of a novel, it had to figure out who the characters are and who did what and to whom and really piece together the whole story to predict that last word — that's the brilliance of the breakthrough with LLMs," he said. "(AI can) now understand protein structures and chemical structures. It's learning how to predict climate and weather, even predicting motion of people."
That same structure — using AI to understand the entire picture and all possible outcomes — will also be applied to business. If an organization has a challenge or vision that has anything to do with information and data, LLMs will be able to help tackle that more quickly (if not entirely).
Applying LLM and generative AI to the business will require marrying the business with technology. The ultimate value of AI, Huang said, won't be realized without innovation happening at that intersection of invention and technology (where NVIDIA plays) and business and real customer benefits (where WWT operates).
As exciting as the technology may be, even AI can't do it all alone. AI is predicated on accelerated computing — computing that can accomplish what standard CPUs cannot — which Huang said is simply not possible without a full technology stack to power it.
"Accelerated computing and AI have arrived. It's the only way to solve the problem," he said.
Business leaders need to act with urgency to enable the incredible power of AI by investing in that tech stack — well-established digital transformation practices and technologies that improve their customer and partner experiences or be left behind. Among them:
- Data strategy, management and analytics
- Application/software development
- Cloud computing
- Platforms and products
- Digital twin technology
As important to the technology is prioritizing a digital-first mindset and driving a culture of inclusion and innovation.
The health and vibrancy of your culture have a direct impact on your organization's ability to innovate and adapt. Leaders should therefore look to do all they can to develop and scale a culture that amplifies creative, innovative thinking — the type of thinking that can bridge the gap between business and technology to most effectively prompt (coax) the AI.
Adopting a digital mindset and maintaining an inspiring culture will help secure another key piece of the AI puzzle — talent.
The talent needed to see AI and digital transformation projects through to completion is too costly for many organizations or simply not available or interested. And given the constant and rapidly accelerating pace of change in the technology landscape — AI itself, being a prime example — it's nearly impossible for any organization to have the right mix of talent at the ready.
Business leaders need a smarter approach to supporting their unique tech environment with resources that can enable the business and drive innovation to move forward.
AI represents an extraordinary opportunity for organizations to grow while better meeting the needs of their customers and employees all at the same time. Never have we operated in a time when we can so directly and specifically apply the power of compute to tangible business challenges and needs.
To make it happen, business leaders need to invest in the infrastructure that can support it all. Your AI investments will inevitably fall flat if the data from which it's informed on is incomplete, siloed or not readily available.
At the same time, leaders need to be thinking about how to develop a culture of innovation and inclusion that embraces this new AI/digital world in order to use and apply this awesome, as Huang said, new computer.
Change is never easy. But to ignore the monumental impact AI and digital will have on every business would be a mistake and a huge missed opportunity for any leader or organization.
I wish you all the best leaning into this exciting new world.