Analysis, Interviews, Opinions

Three-quarters of enterprises working on AI-assisted business models: F5

Generative AI was named the year’s most exciting trend by respondents to a 2024 report by F5, a multi-cloud application services and security company based in the US.

The State of Application Strategy Report has been released as companies continue to build on digital transformation efforts to harness AI and machine learning in their decision-making.

About 56% of those surveyed are more energised than ever about Generative AI, well ahead of other top trends such as IT centralization (40%), multi-cloud networking (35%) and application security (33%).

The report also found plenty of evidence that companies are acting on their intent. Three-quarters of respondents (75%) said they are working on digital transformation projects that F5 categorises as “AI-assisted business”, up from 61% in 2022, and just 17% in 2020.

According to F5’s Digital Enterprise Maturity Index, this stage of digital transformation is where companies begin to apply AI and machine learning to data generated from their apps.

This follows the preparatory stages of “task automation” (deploying apps to streamline manual processes) and “digital expansion” (modernizing, connecting, and scaling those apps).

“In a world of technological innovation, digital transformation has no fixed destination. No one’s ever done,” said Cindy Borovick, Director of Market and Competitive Intelligence, F5.

“As AI use matures and unforeseen technologies enter the scene, complexity, and hybrid IT will continue as the status quo.

“Clearly, the advantage will go to those that build a flexible IT stack capable of rapidly supporting new technologies and reaping the associated benefits. With the right foundation in place, those organizations can capitalise on all emerging innovations.”

Generative AI: beyond a buzzword

This year, the SOAS report clearly found that generative AI moved beyond buzzwords to support a wide range of use cases.

When it comes to security, over a third (35%) of respondents said the most valuable generative AI use case was to automate adjustments to security policies and configurations.

When asked how they will defend against threats to secure AI implementations, 42% stated they are using or planning on using API security solutions to safeguard data as it traverses AI training models. 

Model security is another associated concern for 57% of respondents. To address this, enterprise leaders expect to spend 44% more on security over the next few years as they scale deployments.

For app delivery, the most popular use case was automatically adjusting app and API policies based on service level objectives (cited by 44%). In addition, 28% want to use generative AI to summarize metrics for senior leaders and 27% aim to use natural language to analyse app and API performance (27%).

Interestingly, chatbot “assistants” in app delivery and security solutions, which explore and analyse data using natural language, were deemed the least valuable. The market clearly wants generative AI systems that can act.

The SOAS report suggests that this is also why AI operations (AIOps) will continue to grow as a discipline, despite dropping in the ranking of trends from second place in 2021 to number seven today. In the coming years, the study believes that the rising use of telemetry for automation is likely to significantly drive growth in this space.

 It’s a prediction that is echoed by survey respondents: those struggling with automation complexity were more likely than average to value generative AI most for AIOps purposes.

“AI will be of most benefit to organizations that can deploy it strategically. AI deployments that prevent security breaches or reduce operational costs are useful but primarily tactical,” said Lori MacVittie, F5 Distinguished Engineer.

“As business success increasingly relies on digital apps and data, the most strategic uses of AI will be tailored to support specific business functions and execute on core strategies. The benefits can go beyond tactical targets such as cost savings. More strategic use will yield even greater value, such as creating new and better customer experiences or delivering a competitive advantage.”

The SOAS report also concluded that since the barriers of budget and complexity will continue, any standardization that can be achieved will become increasingly beneficial. 

“We expect organizations to increasingly turn to integrated product suites or a consolidated team of vendors that can offer more automated, connected, and scalable app delivery and security support across multi-cloud environments,” added MacVittie.

“As part of that movement, the use of multi-cloud networking will increase. The benefits will include not only the speed and efficacy of automation, but also greater visibility to further amplify the virtuous cycle of insights driving automated and intelligent actions.” – TradeArabia News Service