In 2000, Salesforce launched an ad campaign themed the “End of Software.” The company was an early pioneer of software-as-a-service (SaaS), and finished the year with a mere $5.4 million in revenue. Twenty-one years later, estimated SaaS spending has reached a staggering $152B, with Salesforce itself reporting FY22 revenue of $26.5B.
A similar shift has begun in how machines understand and process unstructured data. Many analysts have highlighted the fact that enterprise data is growing exponentially, with some estimating that 90% of all data was created in the last two years, and 80-90% of it is unstructured. Most enterprises remain focused on processing more manageable structured data, forgoing a tremendous opportunity to dramatically lower costs and transform customer experience.
Today’s AI models allow computers to process complex documents, enrich transaction data, anonymize or redact personally identifiable information in images and documents, automate data plate extraction, transcribe conversations, identify objects in images, improve e-commerce product recommendations, and much more. AI technology is only becoming more capable at an ever faster pace.
With available business user-friendly AI platforms, enterprises can easily categorize all forms of data, use real-time search to find relevant information, and then automatically extract actionable information to automate business processes. A fully functional AI-powered solution can be built in a matter of days without any coding, a dramatic departure from past artificial intelligence projects that required deep pockets and months or years of development by experts with specialized skillsets.
Given the capabilities AI offers, should any data still be considered unstructured?
I believe this is the beginning of the end of unstructured data in the enterprise, and the dawn of a new age of AI-driven data processing. In a few short years, the volume of data processed by emerging AI platforms will quickly exceed the volume of structured data processed throughout the entirety of human history. The question is this: will enterprises move fast enough to leverage AI-driven data processing, transforming their business and customer experience in the process, or be left behind by AI-first startups waiting in the wings?