Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Saturday, December 15, 2018
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AI, Blockchain Hype Hasn’t Translated into Investments 

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All the talk and hype surrounding AI, machine learning and blockchain technologies has so far failed to translate into actual spending on new IT initiatives, concludes a new industry “reality check.”

Instead, the survey of about 250 CIOs and IT managers found continuing investments in “foundational priorities” such as security, cloud computing, big data analysis and DevOps. By contrast, initiatives in areas like the Internet of Things (IoT) AI, machine learning and blockchain were well done the list of enterprise priorities during the first half of 2018.

“Emerging technologies lag in criticality while key skills remain a barrier” to investment, concludes the “IT reality check” released this week by IT services provider TEKSystems. “Companies are still in the process of creating [a] strong foundation for scale through three key pillars: cloud, data and security,” the vendor survey concludes.

Hence, emerging AI, IoT and blockchain “technologies are not considered critical for driving business strategy for the second half of the year, or until enterprise IT can demonstrate that a secure, stable, scalable environment is in place to deliver these services,” the survey authors added.

Among the reasons for reluctance to invest are internal resistance from IT and security managers wary of consolidating and then providing enterprise-wide access to data that would underpin AI and other technologies initiatives. “A significant number of organizations suffer from a lack of communication and collaboration between core IT and business [and] product teams,” said Brandon Carroll, director of TEKsystems DevOps and cloud services unit. “This fact is driving poor stakeholder buy-in, and ultimately standing in the way of adopting new platforms.”

The survey also confirms long-standing concerns about a skills gap in foundational areas like data science and DevOps, perhaps creating an opening for so-called DevSecOps and other automation tools. Either way, having the right skills and expertise were listed as the top priority when attempting to launch new technology initiatives.

Hence, the high expectations at the beginning of this year for launching enterprise technology initiatives in areas like machine learning have largely failed to materialize. That has translated into flat or declining IT budgets and little or no change in IT staff salaries, the survey found.

The findings also illustrate the reality that enterprise IT departments “have settled into a pattern of focusing on actionable items regarding established technology that supports ongoing digital transformation efforts,” TEKsystems said. Any new technology initiatives will likely be undertaken concurrently with managing legacy platforms and services, the vendor added.

“IT departments are in a constant, internal struggle to balance the business needs of velocity and agility against traditional IT goals of security and operational sustainability,” the survey concludes. “The high demand/low capacity market for advanced skills across cloud, DevOps, [continuous integration/continuous delivery, big data [and] analytics…is exacerbating this issue.”

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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