Cognitive Technologies Live up to the Hype and Bigger Gains Lie Ahead

Even as the press is filled with stories of artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies, the market isn’t entirely sure what to make of these advances. As with any emerging technology, the question arises of whether it’s all hype or if it’s truly transformative. 

According to a Deloitte survey of early adopters, things are looking quite positive. In fact, cognitive technologies are already showing their worth by providing value to businesses, even they aren’t yet burning up the world. 

Deloitte surveyed 250 people who they defined as “cognitive-aware” leaders within “cognitive-active” companies, to understand their impressions of cognitive technologies and get a sense of what is working. These are people working in all aspects of cognitive technology, from machine learning and natural language processing through physical robots. In fact, the authors conflate “cognitive technologies” and “artificial intelligence,” defining them as “technologies that can perform and/or augment tasks, help better inform decisions, and create interactions that have traditionally required human intelligence, such as planning, reasoning from partial or uncertain information, and learning.” 

Cognitive Computing

In all, a whopping 83% of respondents said that they have already received moderate or substantial benefits from their work with these technologies, and when asked about ranking the benefits of all cognitive technologies, they put “helping employees in making better decisions" near the top of the list. 

While the benefits are clear and many believe the true transformational shifts in business will come in the next few years, today the positives are much more modest, and so are the implementations. In other words, the robots aren’t eating our jobs, they’re just making our jobs better. 

These modest gains add up quickly. The survey authors note that the more you work with cognitive technologies, the more you get out of them. They go so far as suggesting that companies create a small, dedicated internal groups dedicated to building “cognitive initiatives focused on creating measurable business outcomes”. This, they say, will allow companies to find the best fit for their needs. 

The future looks even brighter, with 92% of respondents saying that cognitive technologies are important to their internal business processes and 76% noting that cognitive technologies will “substantially transform” their companies within three years. 

Still, the message here is clear: start small and let the benefits lead you. This is exactly what’s happening with Attivio customers, as they are looking for wins in specific applications and then using those wins to help grow programs. Often during our sales prospecting we hear complaints that early cognitive initiatives didn’t live up to their expectations. That often comes when vendors try to sell too much, offering massive implementations that promise huge business transformation. In those cases, it’s almost impossible to succeed right out of the gate. 

As for whether this is all hype or truly transformative, those surveyed agreed that the promise is real. While most (43%) say that this is “just another new technology”, 37% say that this is “fundamentally different from conventional IT.” 

To learn more about how cognitive search is transforming enterprises, read the white paper – The Cognitive Step: How Search will Improve.   


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