In 2017, artificial intelligence and digital transformation vaulted to the forefront of business priorities, and these technologies will continue to drive new business initiatives as we move into 2018.

Recent research suggests that the AI market will surpass $100 billion by 2025, and 89 percent of enterprises say their industry is being disrupted by digital technology. For companies to succeed today, digital strategies must underlie an organization’s approach to innovation and customer experience. And to support these efforts, it’s vital for companies to build out the necessary data infrastructure.

Today, AI is more of a trendy buzzword than a practical reality. Difficult to execute, AI is only as good as its data, and data integrity still varies from enterprise to enterprise. However, we’ve seen the early stages of machine learning applications in industries such as advertising and retail, and in the years ahead we’ll see more industries, including industrial Internet of Things, digital health and digital finance, begin taking advantage of this technology to provide more meaningful user experiences.

Throughout this transformation, the database will play an instrumental role by accommodating rapidly-changing data at scale, while keeping big data sets reliable and secure, although true implementation of AI is still several years away.

Re-platforming the database
Businesses are beginning to understand the link between customer engagement and digital transformation and, in turn, they’re recognizing that their current infrastructure will not help them achieve this transformation. As more companies evolve their business models by fundamentally rethinking their data—how it is managed, how it is moved and how it is presented to the customer—they will also rethink how their data infrastructure can provide the agility they need to achieve their digital transformation goals. The re-platforming of the corporate database infrastructure to modern platforms that allow for fluidity of data movement and secure management from edge to cloud will accelerate at an unprecedented pace.

In the process, one-trick technology solutions that solve singular customer problems will begin to peel away, as the cost and complexity of integrating numerous point solutions that address niche issues will no longer be worth the headache. To maintain a lasting relationship with their customers, technology vendors will need to provide one platform that fills multiple customer requirements, and having an agile approach to technology will be the key differentiator.

As companies seek to deploy AI implementations and undergo digital transformations, it’s advances in their data architecture that will make this possible. And if there’s one consistent truth across all industries, it’s that the businesses that best adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape will be the ones to succeed in 2018 and beyond.

Ravi Mayuram is the SVP of Engineering and CTO at Couchbase, a data platform provider.

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