The future of the cloud services industry will be shaped by a range of disruptive themes, with artificial intelligence (AI) being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on cloud services companies. A detailed analysis of the theme, insights into the leading companies, and their thematic and valuation scorecards are included in GlobalData’s thematic research report,Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Thematic Intelligence (Executive Briefing). Buy the report here.
AI is everywhere, and it has an impact on all our lives. However, years of bold proclamations have resulted in AI becoming overhyped, with reality often falling short of the world-altering promises. The coming years will be less about making bold statements and more about delivering tangible benefits. Practical uses of AI will be front and centre, as businesses ensure they get their money’s worth by using AI to address specific use cases.
As AI becomes more pervasive and embedded in life-changing decisions, the need for transparency has intensified. There have been plenty of high-profile cases in recent years where AI has contributed to bias and discrimination, with the use of facial recognition for policing being just one example. There is a high probability of a shift from loose self-regulation to government involvement in AI over the next couple of years. In turn, Big Tech is increasingly using AI to solve the privacy and bias problems that the technology itself created. Explainable AI, which allows humans to understand the path a model took to make a decision, and synthetic data training, which circumvents the small data problem using artificially created data, are two ways AI is being used to develop trust.
Machine Learning (ML) involves building models that learn and improve from data without being explicitly told what to do. All of the leading cloud service providers offer ML solutions that can support individual business needs, and, with demand growing, they are increasingly moving in the direction of providing ML as a service.
However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key leading indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.
Insights from top ranked companies
Microsoft was late to the AI party, but since Satya Nadella took over as CEO in 2014, AI has become a top priority. In 2018 Nadella stated that Microsoft is going to “infuse everything with AI.” Microsoft rapidly made up ground, helped by strategic acquisitions, most recently in 2018 when it acquired Bonsai (ML), XOXCO, and Semantic Machines (both conversational AI), and Lobe (deep learning). It is also investing heavily in AI through its venture capital arm, M12. Adding AI functionality to its Azure cloud computing service will remain a priority, allowing customers to integrate AI into their applications.
As the world’s leading provider of cloud infrastructure services, Amazon competes with Google in AI services. It offers a slew of AI and ML services through AWS. These include pre-trained AI services for image and video analysis (Rekognition), conversational agents (Lex), and text-to-speech applications (Polly). Cloud ML platform SageMaker was launched towards the end of 2017. The most well-known AI product from Amazon is Alexa, its virtual assistant. As part of its Echo range of devices, Alexa gave Amazon an early lead in the nascent smart speaker market. Amazon orchestrates the world’s largest fleet of mobile robots in its warehouses and has invested heavily in AI-related M&A activity, acquiring Canvas, a warehouse robotics company, in 2019, and Zoox, a leading autonomous vehicle start-up, in mid-2020.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence.
- Rackspace Technology
- F5 Networks
- Cato Networks
- Micro Focus
- Citrix Systems