Anyone who keeps their fingers on the pulse of the industry can tell that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is hot.

It has been front-and-center in discussions for 2017, made its way into announcements from nearly every company, and been looked at by nearly every market vertical as we all attempt to imagine the possibilities for the technology.

In fact, in a 2016 November Forrester report on predictions for this year, it was said that AI will “drive faster business decisions in marketing, ecommerce, product management and other areas of the business by helping close the gap from insights to action.” Additionally, an IDC Spending Guide from October of 2016 found that cognitive/AI solutions will experience a CAGR of 55.1% over 2016-2020.

Can AI fix networks?SwissCognitive

With this much chatter it is hard not to get excited. However, while its applications are seemingly endless, I believe many within the industry are neglecting to see a large and potentially even more impactful one than the digital applications leading the discussion – AI deployed to make physical adjustments to the network.  AI certainly has a home in the digital word where it can analyze data-in-motion and direct workflows, extract additional intelligence, or optimize performance. But what if AI could prompt changes to the physical network connections as well? A parallel trend may be just what the doctor ordered.

Taking AI a step further

This past year saw a trend start to emerge that was aimed at automating the management of physical connections within the network infrastructure – the deployment of robotics. The use of robotics brought many benefits with it, including a simpler and more dynamic data center network infrastructure; reduction in security concerns and increased speed on reaction time to security issues; future-proofing of critical infrastructure; and decreased operational costs. Using robotic technology for traditionally manual tasks also brought further operational benefits such as increased productivity and decreased time to connect or disconnect a network connection physically, giving back time to IT staff. While the emergence and utilization of robotics within the data center network has the potential to significantly impact operations and the TCO of networks, pairing it with AI can take this to another level.