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How is AI impacting IT?

January 22, 2024
AI circuit board connecting with firmware technology.

Artificial intelligence, commonly known as AI, is radically reshaping industries around the globe and the information technology (IT) sector is no exception. With AI-driven programs that can learn, adapt, and execute tasks, IT is undergoing a revolution of sorts. This blog will delve into the depth of AI’s impact on IT, exploring how it is upgrading conventional IT operations, the benefits and challenges artificial intelligence presents to IT functions, and its impact on the IT workforce and cybersecurity.

How is AI changing the IT sector?

Artificial Intelligence is creating significant advancements in the IT sector. Not only is AI capable of performing tasks traditionally reliant on human intelligence, but it's also learning to mimic human behaviors, drastically modifying the landscape of IT operations. AI and machine learning, for instance, are increasingly used in analyzing and interpreting vast amounts of data, offering precise forecasts to drive strategic decision-making, thus transforming the traditional demands from higher-ups on IT teams.1

Additionally, AI capabilities in virtual assistance are elevating customer services in IT operations, providing instantaneous, personalized responses to customer queries. In fact, the research consulting organization Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of customer service and support organizations will be using generative AI in one form or another to improve customer experience and organizational productivity.2

Examples of AI in IT operations

AI technology advancements are changing the face of IT operations, implementing smarter, more efficient systems and solutions. Through machine learning in IT, AI has managed to enhance predictive maintenance, ultimately, improving performance and reducing downtime. Software-based on AI can analyze operational data, identify patterns, and predict system failures before they occur, allowing IT teams to intervene proactively.3

In the realm of customer service, as previously mentioned, AI-powered chatbots are increasingly being employed. They can quickly process vast amounts of customer data, understanding issues, and generating immediate responses, improving customer satisfaction while reducing the workload of IT staffers.

AI-driven IT solutions are not only improving operational efficiency but also changing the course of IT system management. Remote monitoring systems are now integrated with AI to identify and solve issues without human intervention, reducing response times and maximizing uptime. For example, H2O.ai, a leading company in AI and machine learning, provides AI software that IT teams can use to monitor operations, detect anomalies, and take corrective action based on predictive insights.4

Benefits of AI in IT services

The benefits of integrating AI in IT services are significant and far-reaching. AI IT automation, for example, is propelling the IT sector forward by automating repetitive tasks, from data entry to customer inquiries. One example of this automation is IBM's Watson AIOps which uses AI to automate the process of detecting, diagnosing, and responding to IT anomalies in real time.5 By freeing up time for IT professionals, AI IT automation optimizes operational efficiency, enabling IT teams to focus on more strategic tasks.

Combining artificial intelligence with strategic IT planning heralds an optimized and forward-looking AI IT strategy. Adopting such a strategy does not only help companies stay ahead in a fast-paced digital landscape but also assists in managing risks, setting scalability planning, and aligning business and IT objectives.

Through AI, the future of IT is pivoting towards a more streamlined, efficient, and strategic direction.

Challenges of AI in the IT industry

As much as AI transformation in the IT industry comes with its advantages, there will, of course, be some obstacles to adoption. One significant hurdle numerous organizations face is the integration of AI into existing IT systems. Obstacles such as compatibility issues, data silos, and legacy technology can impede seamless AI adoption. Additionally, managing change within an organization and training the workforce to adapt to AI-driven operations also present notable challenges to IT departments and entire organizations.

Moreover, there is the question of ethics and privacy in AI, where the deployment of such technologies must be done with the utmost regard for customer data protection as well as avoiding bias. A Reuters report from June 2023 found that nearly half of the United Kingdom’s 250 largest listed companies, did not have a code of conduct for AI shared publicly (or included in their corporate ethics statements) and 43% of the AI ethics codes that did exist were judged below par.6

AI and Cybersecurity in IT

Another major challenge is ensuring data security for the organization itself and its intellectual property. The proliferation of artificial intelligence has brought a new dimension to cybersecurity within the IT sector. AI-driven cybersecurity solutions are increasingly crucial in combating sophisticated cyber threats and responding to incidents with greater speed and efficiency.

The rise in AI implementation has led to elevated levels of cyber threats, meaning that organizations need to be more vigilant than ever in guarding their AI-powered systems against malicious attacks. Cybercrime cost U.S. businesses more than $10 billion in 2022 and is predicted to reach as much as $10.5 trillion globally by 2025. AI systems are only as robust as the security measures protecting them, so it’s even more crucial that IT teams have robust branches of cybersecurity experts in their ranks.7

Some experts suggest incorporating AI into cybersecurity efforts as well, using tools both defensively, to predict risk and monitor for breaches, as well as offensively, by accelerating recovery by quickly reimplementing business as usual after an attack.7 Speaking to the Financial Times, Phil Venables, chief information security officer of Google Cloud says, “By training the model on all of our threat data, all of our security best practices, all our knowledge of how to build secure software and secure configurations, we already have customers using it to increase their ability to analyze attacks and malware to create automated defenses.” Generative AI can also be used to recommend fixes for broken code and help train security staff.8 As we integrate AI deeper into the fabric of IT, it is essential to have professionals who not only understand AI technology but also its implications for security and privacy within the IT industry.

AI’s impact on the IT workforce

The infusion of AI into IT is not only reshaping the technology used but also the IT workforce itself. The future of IT with AI portends potential job displacement but, more optimistically, it offers an opportunity for upskilling and diversification. Automation may phase out certain job functions that are routine and repetitive, but AI also creates new roles and responsibilities that demand more complex and creative problem-solving abilities.

There's a growing need for AI and machine learning specialists within IT departments to develop, manage, and oversee AI-driven IT solutions. According to a report by the World Economic Forum:9

  • AI and machine learning specialists are the fastest-growing jobs with business intelligence analysts and information security analysts following closely behind
  • More than 85% of organizations surveyed identify increased adoption of new and frontier technologies and broadening digital access as the trends most likely to drive transformation in their organization
  • More than 75% of companies are looking to adopt AI, big data, and cloud computing technologies in the next five years with big data analytics and cybersecurity expected to be some of the biggest drivers of job growth

As AI continues to redefine the IT sector, it's crucial for individuals and organizations alike to be proactive in embracing education and flexibility in career development. Eleanor Drage, a research fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, emphasized to Reuters the importance of including IT professionals in conversations about setting ethical AI standards rather than solely company leaders. “It’s important who’s involved in creating these ethical statements. Is it just a bunch of C-suite people who have little to do with AI directly, or is it also the engineers and other experts who are working on these issues day in, day out?”6

Organizations must navigate the complexities of AI implementation — such as integration issues, ethical considerations, and evolving cyber threats — with a strategic and informed approach. Education and adaptability will be the keystones for IT professionals as the AI-driven future unfolds. Those willing to invest in their skill sets and embrace continuous learning will find opportunities amidst the AI-induced disruption.

How to prepare for a career in IT that integrates AI

To adapt to the evolving IT landscape, continued education and training are critical. Online higher education programs and certifications have emerged as a viable path for many IT professionals seeking to enhance their expertise in these new areas of technology without halting their careers.

A program like Marquette University’s online Master of Science (M.S.) in Computer and Information Science (CIS) is designed to equip students with practical skills and comprehensive strategic knowledge to weather the frequent shifts of the world of IT. Delivered completely asynchronously, the online program is ideal for students who want to develop skills they can take to work the very next day. The program’s Career Changer pathway also makes it possible for professionals of varying backgrounds to reach IT mastery and upskill into a new role.

Marquette’s online AI courses

The best thing about Marquette’s online CIS master’s? You can shape it to fit your specific needs. You may choose to enroll in the cybersecurity specialization or follow one of the three suggested concentrations, or pick and choose the courses that are most valuable to furthering your career.

Consider how these course offerings could transform your career and prepare you for a successful career working in the complex field of IT and AI:

  • COSC 5600: Fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence: Cover the fundamentals of A.I Gain an understanding of the characterizations of intelligent agents and application environment complexity, implement searching techniques that handle problems of various complexity, implement logical agents that solve problems including planning tasks. Students will learn how to implement intelligent agents dealing with uncertainty and come to understand types of learning and how to implement simple learning agents.
  • COSC 6330: Advanced Machine Learning: Master the theory and applications of machine learning algorithms as data analysis methods to learn and infer patterns and characteristic structures in the data. Explore in-depth new and advanced methods in machine learning, as well as their underlying theory. The course emphasizes approaches with practical relevance and discusses several recent applications of machine learning, such as data mining, computer vision, robotics, text and web data processing. Students will learn to implement the machine learning algorithms from scratch and tailor them to real-world problems.
  • COSC 6820: Data Ethics: This course provides a comprehensive overview of the current ethical and social implications of our data-driven society. Students start by learning some of the fundamental principles of ethics and technology, and then explore the ethical responsibilities of being a data/information professional. They then look at ethical and social issues that emerge throughout the data lifecycle, including how data is collected, stored, shared, and analyzed. Finally, they’ll engage more deeply with the ethical and social dimensions of various data-rich contexts, including law enforcement, education, health care, and the workplace.
  • COSC 6580: Data Security and Privacy: Focuses on fundamental and advanced topics in data security and privacy, including differential privacy, secure multi-party computation, homomorphic encryption, data perturbation, data anonymization, security and privacy in AI, location privacy, and social network privacy.

The integration of artificial intelligence into the IT landscape is a transformative phenomenon, bringing unparalleled advancements and simultaneously posing significant challenges. AI's impact on IT is visible across various facets, from automating tasks and improving operational efficiency to revolutionizing cybersecurity and reshaping the IT workforce.

As we stand on the brink of a new era in the technology industry, the promise of AI is profound. Despite the challenges it brings, AI's potential to drive innovation, efficiency, and security in IT is an exciting prospect that will undoubtedly shape the future of technology for years to come.

Schedule a call to speak with an admissions outreach advisor about how you can prepare for a career in IT and master AI with Marquette’s online master’s in CIS.