Big tech trends are a means to an AI end

December 5, 2017



Even digital transformation rookies know that big data is the guiding principal of digital business — or was, at least. Now the big data noise has largely harmonized into a signal: artificial intelligence. If AI is the evolution of big data, do businesses now just follow the AI trail straight to the digital, data-driven promised land?

The hype around AI is thick enough these days to raise flags for even moderate skeptics. But when a 40-year technology business veteran gives his seal of approval, that is saying something. “I think this AI thing is not to be underestimated,” said Tom Siebel (pictured), chairman and chief executive officer of C3 Inc., which does business as C3 IoT.

In fact, AI is the endgame of much of the most talked-about technologies alongside it today, Siebel believes. “I think the cloud, [internet of things], big data, devices — those are just enablers,” Siebel said.

He spoke with John Furrier (@furrier), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, and guest host Justin Warren (@jpwarren), chief analyst at PivotNine Pty Ltd, during the AWS re:Invent event in Las Vegas.

This week, theCUBE spotlights Tom Siebel in its Guest of the Week feature.

Listening to Siebel’s raspy plain talk, it would be easy to mistake him for a hard-bitten senior detective. The serial entrepreneur behind Siebel Systems, now owned by Oracle, likes to cut to the gristle and bone of tech trends and find out what they’re really good for. “This is my idea of a good time,” he said.

Artificial intelligence — or inferences drawn from predictive data analytics — is big data’s whole raison dêtre, according to Siebel. “People think big data is the fact that an exabyte is more than a gigabyte. That’s not it,” he said. Big data means data in its entirety; previously, analytics were confined to data samples, he explained. With elastic cloud infrastructure, limits on compute and storage have disappeared so that there is no sampling now; all data can be analyzed for prediction. “It’s a whole different game,” he added.

Companies that work intelligence from data into their business models are the future, and executives know this. They see what Uber Technologies Inc. has done in transportation without a single vehicle to its name. They see what Airbnb Inc. has done in the hotel industry, Siebel pointed out. Using data and technology in the way that these disruptive startups have is the digital transformation imperative, he added.

Read the full article and watch the video on SiliconANGLE here.