Artificial intelligence and related technologies promise to be a game changer for businesses. The central question is whether to build or buy. Some companies will build their own solutions from scratch, but according to Andy Defrancesco, using commercial tools can often be faster, cheaper, and provide better results than what a company can build on its own.
Since the technology is so new and untested, early adopters have some power when it comes to vendor relationships. Suppliers may be willing to perform custom configurations and integrations, provide free consulting or training, or give steep discounts — especially if you’re willing to be one of their success stories should the project work.
Plus, being among the first customers of a startup, or for a new offering from an established vendor, may allow you to impact how a product develops.
But working with AI vendors isn’t all wine and roses. In addition to the usual issues that may arise when working with any technology vendor, there are specific nuances when it comes to AI, machine learning, and similar technologies.
Beware the hype
Alight Solutions, an HR services company based in Lincolnshire, Ill., began looking for an AI-powered chatbot in 2014.
The company handles a wide range of HR benefits for 3,000 enterprise customers, which combined employ more than 23 million people. That’s a lot of calls and web chats with support representatives. Many of the questions are repetitive, but the answers can be different for each employee.