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Boomi World 2024 - AI futures according to Boomi and Red Hat leaders

Sarah Aryanpur Profile picture for user saryanpur May 16, 2024
Summary:
Dusting off the crystal balls on AI, automation and enterprise CIO challenges.

Crystal ball photography © Alexas_Fotos - Pixabay
(© Alexas_Fotos - Pixabay)

Integrating AI into legacy systems will take time, and a lot of work. It will offer huge productivity gains, but it won’t be plain sailing for CIOs. They will have to navigate their complex systems, integrating disparate pieces, at the same time as dealing with the challenges of a distributed data center.

During Boomi World 2024, Steve Lucas, Chairman and CEO, Boomi, Paul Comier, Red Hat Chairman and former CEO, and Ed Macosky, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Boomi, addressed the challenges facing organizations, and looked at how future strategies might play out over the next few years.

Comier cautioned that one of the biggest problems with AI is how to consume it, especially in the enterprise, where things like security, reliability, and resilience are the primary difficulties that CIOs face today.  He said:

Non AI experts are going to have to consume this, and so it's going to be up to us, in the industry to make it more consumable.”

Lucas agreed: 

Enterprise computing has changed with the internet and mobile, cloud and and the list goes on. We need to look at how to change the enterprise for humans using AI, and the impact this has on the big application.

For CIOs the issue of managing distributed data centers is getting worse, according to Comier. He believes that now the data center is no longer within four walls it is much more difficult for CIOs to control. He used the example of a railway company that has ticket kiosks at all its stations, where passengers buy tickets:

Buying tickets with a credit card, means all that data processing is in the financial processing at the kiosk, not back at the data center. But if someone breaks into their data center, or one of those endpoints that the kiosk is sitting on, the CIO is still very much on the hook.

Automation

Lucas, Macosky and Cromier all agreed that automation will make a real difference to meeting the primary challenges for today's CIO -  security, efficiency and resilience.  Cromier argued:

Using the train system as an example, it's pretty complex when that goes down. There are no walls for the data center. That integration is really what the walls of the data center are. That's what's tying all these disparate pieces together. And so the boundaries of those walls cross continents in many cases.

Although many companies have started experimenting, Cromier believes they need to have a solid strategy:

I see so many software companies that don't have a strategy because it is too complex. You have to really think about what the strategy is, what you are trying to accomplish, and then start the experimentation. Because if you really understand what your overall strategy is, the overall architecture, you're going to understand the most important points first. There's always that bottleneck. It's going to drive everywhere from everything. If you don't understand that you're going to inevitably start in the wrong place.

All three speakers think integrating AI effectively is going to take a while, with Cromier suggesting:

I think we all, including our customers, under-estimate how long it takes to get these technologies into the real world. As you all know, the enterprise is a very unforgiving place. We have many customer standards that drive support. We have one program that customers pay for for 15 years. And what that means is 15 year support on a common core on the same codebase, because as much as they want to drive forward with innovation, the customer base has many, many pieces in that application base that they just don't want to touch. The mainframe is still alive, and it's because those are the types of applications that are just too painful to move.

Conundrum

For his part, Macosky thinks there is an interesting kind of conundrum happening right now. He said:

There will be developing applications by developers in hardware, because it's something that's 'automatable'. So it will go to pilots where it is embracing more and building applications.  Where I think it's going to take off is around things like documentation, particularly our electrical documentation, test automation frameworks, etc.

He added:

Pure development and writing code is hard for developers, so it's going to take a little time, but we'll get there. But in terms of higher quality applications, better user experiences, and less downtime, development productivity overall is going to be impacted. So customers are going to be getting more mature products and applications much faster.

Macosky explained that Boomi has spent the last few years preparing itself for the future:

We've been on a journey building up to this moment. I was hiring higher-powered intelligence and ML engineers five or six years ago in preparation. I was where our customers are today…We go out to the market with our customers, and literally sit with them, with these prototype projects and say, look, we've been there, we understand, we can help you with not only the tools and technology, but how we can prototype with you to make sure you keep costs in check.

Lucas added:

What's interesting is that in 99 out of 100 cases [before now], Boomi was talking with the CIO. Now it’s the CIO and the CFO and we are becoming very accustomed to being very customer centric. In almost every single conversation that we've had, where the CFO is in the room with the CIO, the demonstration and then the conversation around it has ended with the CFO saying it was abundantly clear to them that being able to ask questions on your financial system, and get real time answers without 17 steps between you and the answer, was very helpful. But it does take us in a different direction, a very different conversation.

In the future Cromier thinks companies will be able to successfully integrate AI into their organizations, and at the same time technology innovations will continue to improve efficiency, security and resilience. He said: 

Look at these pieces, whether it be open source, Linux, cloud, hybrid cloud integration, or AI. I look at these as really cool, separate pieces of innovation. We have to not only make it work all together, but as we make it work all together, each one will get individually better as well, based on what we've learned, and in trying to put them all together.

Lucas concluded: 

I think we're all learning right now. What is good, bad and indifferent around this, and the good news is I guess there will be plenty of cautionary tales about what we are trying next and then not quite turning out like we expected it to be, but we definitely need more training, and education enablement around what is and is not acceptable before we get to jetpacks and flying cars.

My take

AI is not going away. Embrace it now. And let's educate people on what's a good example, and then beyond that, how do we leverage this to create an unfair advantage for our company.

It was good to hear a few cautionary comments in amongst the torrent of all things AI. Yes, integrating AI into the enterprise will offer great benefits, but it will be tough to realize those, and will probably take longer than organizations would like. But it is important to start experimenting now, because if you don't, you’ll be too late to catch up.

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